11 candidates seek 5 seats on Phoenixville council

PHOENIXVILLE >> There are a total of 11 candidates running for borough council on the Nov. 7 ballot. Three of them are incumbents.

In the Middle Ward, Democrat Beth Burckley is challenging incumbent Republican Michael Kuznar.

In the East Ward, incumbent Democrat Jeremy Dalton is being challenged by Republican Dave Davis

In the North Ward, Democrat Richard Kirkner, a former member of council, will face off against Republican Sarah Peppel. Neither is currently an incumbent.


In the West Ward, incumbent Democrat Dana Dugan is being challenged by Republican Aisha Dawe.

Three candidates are running for mayor, none of them incumbents.

Green Party candidate Nate Craig, Democrat Peter Urscheler and Republican David Gautreau are all seeking the mayor’s post.

Middle Ward

In her candidate response, Burckley, 35, wrote she decided to run “when we moved to Phoenixville we immediately felt the embrace of a supportive and caring community. As we started our grassroots business, the community supported us throughout our very slow organic growth. I made a commitment to give back to the community that has embraced us. I view the opportunity to run for the office as a continuation of my commitment. I want to ensure we celebrate Phoenixville’s history, maintain our sense of community and prepare for the future.

Burckley holds a master’s degree in education and is a board member of the Phoenixville Jaycees and sits on committees for community organizations including The House: Phoenixville’s Women’s Outreach and Ann’s HEART. She is a local business owner and a board certified behavior analyst.

“Community is created when local businesses, residents, organizations and government work together. I want to preserve our sense of community and unique charm during this time of growth,” Burckley wrote in response to a question about her most important goal in office.

“As we grow, I want to ensure we are considering our community’s needs 5, 10 20, and 30 years from now. As an active participant in the community, I will be accessible to my constituents making informed decisions that take all perspectives into consideration,” she wrote.

Kuznar did not provide a response to Digital First Media’s candidate questionnaire.

North Ward

In his response, Kirkner, 62, wrote that he decided to run “because the surge in development on the North Side of Phoenixville has created pedestrian and traffic issues that need to be addressed—namely the impact the Northern Relief Route will have on Fillmore Street and Ashburn Road residents, as well as on users of the Reservoir Park-Friendship Field recreational complex. I have also had a long-time desire to address the wear and tear along Route 113 through this side of town, particularly along Emmett Street.”

A healthcare journalist and editorial consultant, Kirkner holds a bachelor of the arts degree from Gannon University.

He served three terms as a councilman from the North Ward; was borough council president in 2000 and from 2009 to 2013; former chair and member of the Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee; member of the Phoenixville Zoning Hearing Board from 1994 to 1997.

“My most important goals are to minimize the impact of the Northern Relief Route and to get streetscapes improvements along Emmett Street,” Kirkner wrote/ “It’s also important to maintain high drinking water standards as Donald Trump’s and Scott Pruitt’s Environmental “Protection” Agency rolls back water quality standards in the Schuylkill River basin.”

In her response, Peppel, 48, wrote that she is running “to serve my community and to foster a culture of civility, collaboration, transparency and accountability.”

The director of student success and career development at the University of Valley Forge, Peppel holds a master’s of science degree in urban economic development and has served as a member of the Phoenixville Civil Service Commission; is a former president of Ledges HOA; is a former DIY Frugal Columnist for The Phoenix and vice president at a digital marketing firm.

If elected, Peppel said her goal is to “to help balance the budget and mitigate growing parking and traffic issues.”


In his candidate response, Urscheler, 34, wrote that he is running because “As mayor, I want to focus on the People of our community, being the ultimate community organizer, bringing people and organizations together in an environment of mutual understanding and respect, where all are welcome. As Chairman of the Phoenixville Jaycees I have been the steward of some of our communiy’s oldest events, it has given me a great appreciation for our history while also helping to prepare our community for the future. I am endorsed by both the current Mayor Michael J. Speck and Former Mayor Leo Scoda, who was mayor for 16 years.”

The owner of a Digital Marketing Agency, Urscheler holds a bachelor of business administration degree from Stetson University.

Urscheler is the 1st President of the Pennsylvania Jaycees; Chairman of the Phoenixville Jaycees; Executive Vice President of the Phoenixville Jaycees Foundation; an advisor on Giving to the HEADstrong Foundation; Alumni Adviser to the Stetson University Student Government Association; a member of the Board of Directors for Phoenixville Area Senior Center; a member of Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership; Pennsylvania East, Communities That Care and Phoenixville First Member of Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce and Phoenixville Area Business Association.”

“In a borough the mayor’s main responsibility is to oversee the police department. As Mayor my goal is to open the lines of communication between our police and citizens. As a borough we have a lot of great development which is taking place, but we also have a lot of challenges to overcome. My priorities include; overcoming the opioid and heroin epidemic, closing the educational attainment gap for students from the borough, maintaining a strong community oriented police force and promoting our community as a regional arts and cultural center.”

In his response, Craig, 34, wrote that he decided to run because he “want to see the police department continue to protect the community effectively and efficiently.” Craig also wrote he wants “to encourage that borough council protects tenants (over 50 percent of Phoenixville’s population). And that renters (who are also prospective home owners) have safe, affordable housing opportunities as the borough continues to grow.”

A DEP-Certified Radon Inspector, helping prevent lung cancer by testing for the presence of radioactive gas. Craig has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from West Chester University.

If elected, Craig wrote his top priority “is to encourage Borough Council to follow through on the pledge to become 100 percent renewable by 2050.”

Gautreau did not provide a response to Digital First Media’s candidate questionnaire.

West Ward

Neither Dugan nor Dawe provided a response to Digital First Media’s candidate questionnaire.

East Ward

Neither Dalton nor Davis provided a response to Digital First Media’s candidate questionnaire.