The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

ELECTION: Phoenixville council races feature some fresh faces


By Frank Otto, fotto@pottsmerc.com

Monday, October 21, 2013

PHOENIXVILLE — With a longtime incumbent and one recent appointee not seeking re-election, voters in Phoenixville’s North and Middle wards will have some relatively fresh faces to choose from Nov. 5.
Longtime borough council member and current president Rich Kirkner decided against again seeking his North Ward seat, setting up a race between rookies Edwin Soto and Jon R. Ichter Jr.
In the meantime, Karl Bucus has served roughly a year in his Middle Ward seat where he was appointed after Kyle Guie vacated it due to a work-related move to Lancaster County.
Bucus indicated from the first that he would not seek election, setting up a showdown between Democrat Guie, who served on council for just about half a year, and Republican Mike Kuznar, who’s been involved in several town organizations.
North Ward
Both North Ward candidates are running for council for the first time and moved to the borough within the last 10 years.
Ichter, 31, moved to the borough in 2008 and works in software.
He serves on the Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) in the borough and also is the president of the Northridge Village Homeowner’s Association.
Ichter said he will focus on three main points in Phoenixville: “comprehensive communciation,” facilitation of further growth” and “protection of our unique attributes.”
As far as communication, Ichter would like to see more social media use in the borough.
“We have too many unbelievable tools to reach the many generations of our borough not to take advantage of them,” he said.
To facilitate growth, among other things, Ichter hopes to bring larger businesses into the area while supporting “small local Phoenixville shops that provide our character.”
Additionally, Ichter said he’d like to protect such community flavor as the town’s restaurants, blue lampposts and the foundry building for “our community for generations to come.”
A volunteer in several organizations including the Peace Advocacy Group, Soto, 33, is the secretary of the Phoenixville Democratic Committee.
He moved to town seven years ago and works as a software architect for a worker’s compensation company in Wayne while also owning a “mobile application development firm based out of Phoenixville.”
Hoping “to offer a fresh perspective if elected,” Soto wants to integrate the north side of Phoenixville more with the rest of the town.
“Maybe because there is a physical bridge to the North Ward, my neighbors have often felt disconnected from the rest of the borough,” Soto said.
To accomplish such integration, Soto said the borough must support “the businesses on the north side that don’t have the same visibilty as the ones on Bridge Street.”
He’d also advocate more community events on the north side to “empower residents with a sense of ownership and inclusion.”
Both candidates have strong feelings on development in their ward.
“I will continue to oppose all attempts to complete housing projects which do not receive the strong support of our immediate community in the North Ward,” Ichter said. “We must value our open space and enjoy the character of our community.”
“My neighbors want to see responsible, sustainable rebuilding and expansion of the North Ward,” Soto said.
Soto said he was “impressed” with council’s budget in 2013 and “would like to see a repeat of addressing safety concerns without a tax increase” in 2014.
He also credited council with working something out for the Firebird Festival, which will take place at Friendship Field in his ward.
“I’m also particularly excited about the new location,” Soto said.
Ichter said he was “happy” the Firebird Festival remained in PHoenixville “but would have liked to see a very strong consideration of the use of Veteran’s Park on the north side which would have had less of an impact to immediate neighbors.”
Middle Ward
The candidates on the Middle Ward ballot are both in their 20s and initially moved to the borough three years ago.
Guie, 28, served on council from January to June before moving away for a short period of time to Lancaster County.
A project manager for a transportation organization and adjunct instructor at Temple University, he previously served on the Historical Architectural Review Board, planning commission and was a member of the Phoenixville Green Team.
“(My) main focuses are encouraging community engagement, promoting economic development and advocating for sustainability,” Guie said.
His opponent, Kuznar, 27, “grew up attending and volunteering at the Civic Center” and owns an internet search engine optimization company with “about four employees.”
He currently serves in several borough committees, including the planning commission, zoning committee, regional planning commission and the borough re-districting committee.
Kuznar sees parking, affordable taxes, crime and business growth as the main issues in Phoenixville.
“My main focus as a member of borough council will be to help small and new businesses to grow to increase revenue for Phoenixville,” he said.
“Easing parking restriction on Bridge Street” to better “welcome” people to the downtown area and ensuring there is adequate infrastructure before bringing in large projects such as the possible minor league baseball stadium are also focuses Kuznar hopes to take up.
In the past on council, Guie brought forward concerns in project about their environmental impact and sustainability.
“My education in urban planning from Temple University School of Environmental Design and my work experience in local government, planning, public policy and sustainability will bring a fresh perspective to borough council,” Guie said. “My endorsement from the Sierra Club also illustrates my commitment to environmental sustainability.”
Uncontested council seats
With Dave Gautreau deciding not to run for his East Ward seat again so he can spend more time with his family, newcomer Democrat Jeremy Dalton will likely take over his seat with no Republican challenger.
Dalton was born in Phoenixville before moving to Maine when he was 8 years old. He returned to the borough after leaving college and works in both real estate and computer technologies.
“I’m here to help, here to bring a fresh edge to council,” Dalton said. “I bring technology, tremendous ideas, and unwavering truths to council.”
Dana Dugan, an incumbent Democrat on council since 2010, also has no challengers.
A member of the Historical Architectural Review Board since 2006, she has also served on the borough’s parks and recreation committee.
“I’m running for re-election because I feel I can continue to assist in the growth and revitalization that has become the signature feature of this outstanding, vibrant place we all call home,” she said.
Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.