West Ward voters elected a Republican to two borough council slots. That makes it fair, although somewhat surprising, that a Republican should have been picked to fill the two-year seat left vacant when doubly-elected Kendrick Buckwalter chose the four-year term for his service.
The surprise comes from the fact that if the three Democrats and the former Dem, now Independent, had voted together, they could have flipped the council from its two-year Republican majority status back to the usual Democratic majority.
After new member James Del-Nero tried and failed to get his patron, Alex Kovach, elected, he crossed party lines to back Republican candidate Julie Morgan Gaudan instead of fellow Democrat Joseph McFarlane.
So the council now stands at a theoretical tie between the four Republicans and the possible coalition of three Democrats plus an Independent. However, given Del-Nero's current track record (which also includes a decisive vote for Jim Lolli, a Republican, to be council president), effectively the Republicans are in charge.
McFarlane, a longtime resident, probably would have served the borough faithfully and intelligently, but when asked what he would change, he responded that he didn't know well enough how things work. Phoenixville has come to expect a bit more passion than that from its council members (whether that's a good or bad thing), and a desire for change is vital for the progress needed here.
Although a relative newcomer to the borough at five years, Gaudan has military, business and leadership experience. She has voiced a desire for giving service to the community, and says she would like to change the borough's image, a laudable and important goal.
Best wishes to the new council member, and lots of luck. Anyone whose introduction to politics comes from Phoenixville's traditionally contentious borough council can use that.