Almost 4 years ago, when I began my first term as Commissioner in Lower Merion Township’s 11th Ward, I vowed to serve the public with transparency and unparalleled commitment.  I am asking for Ward 11 residents’ support at the polls again this Tuesday because I am proud of my accomplishments, and want to continue the work I’ve started on residents’ behalf. 

As a Commissioner, I am part of a collaborative group of 14 men and women who each understand the enormity of our jobs as elected officials:  protecting our township assets, listening to our residents, and demanding exceptional delivery of services.  These are, after all, the cornerstones within local government.   I have a keen understanding of how these all relate to one another, and my background as seasoned government relations professional has helped me to be a respected and effective Commissioner.

One of the most important issues that I have been addressing is further improving Lower Merion’s business climate.  In addition to the powerful endorsement of “Double Triple-A” bond rating by Moody’s & S&P (we are one of only a handful nationally), regional economic indicators demonstrate that we are living in a robust and dynamic community.  One of the most desirable places in the nation to live and work (and according to Time Magazine, we were ranked 11th nationally as “Best Places to Live” in 2018), Lower Merion must continue to focus on the appropriate revitalization of our commercial centers to enhance economic and community development.  This is an important factor so that world-class businesses choose to invest and locate in Lower Merion. Enhancing a business-friendly climate is critical to our Township, and I am committed to this endeavor.

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Solutions to address many challenging issues facing the township have moved forward significantly. I have voted reasonably on mixed-use development projects that threaten the character of the entire township, especially as we are seeing the negative externalities of creating high-density housing units. To help slow the pace of residential development, a massive rewrite of our 80-year old zoning code is now well underway. Subdivision and land development (SALDO) provisions will be both better understood and more predictable to property owners. A reduction in the number of expensive and onerous Special Exceptions will create a streamlined and more efficient review process for land development applicants.

Arguably a development byproduct, namely traffic congestion, has become one of the most important issues township residents would like to see better handled.  I am committed to continuing to create effective solutions for easing traffic pains for any person living in, working in, or visiting Lower Merion.  Our new Traffic Calming Policy goes a long way to address this deficient issue, and we are, under the direct leadership of our board President Dan Bernheim pursuing legislation in Harrisburg that will enable townships like ours to use radar at the local level in order to issue citations.

In addition to focusing on our rezoning and traffic, I have insisted on top-notch constituent service by being as responsive as possible.  I have enjoyed answering several hundreds of inquiries ranging from parking issues to complex taxation matters.  I have communicated important public safety incidents timely in an effort to ease concern. 

Aside from my commitment to being responsive to constituents, I have also insisted on positive dialogue amongst board members.  Even in the most robust, raw, or difficult public debates – usually dealing with our $16 million capital budget or the preservation of open space like peacefully impressive Stoneleigh -- the Board has maintained a functional bipartisan tenor that I am very proud to have helped create for the betterment of Lower Merion.

Here in the 11th Ward, my accomplishments have helped in many ways. I have set in motion a multi-year maintenance plan at Harriton House including funding for a major stream-bank restoration there.  I have worked to improve traffic safety while strongly encouraging more police presence and enforcement to help curtail fast drivers cutting through our Ward.  Together with residents, township staff, and school officials, we have improved the parking situation surrounding Harriton High School as well as near Bryn Mawr College.  Working with Montgomery County, a historic bridge was rebuilt.   And, upgraded walking connections to public transportation hubs in Bryn Mawr are being planned.

As I continue to work cooperatively to move Lower Merion in a positive direction, transparency and accessibility will continue to be very important to me.  That is why I keep Ward 11 residents up-to-date on important Township news via my Facebook page and my email newsletter, “Community Voices”. I would encourage anyone who would like to receive this newsletter, or who have questions or concerns to please email me at toneill@lowermerion.org.

Although I am proud of my achievements, there is still more to see through.  With your vote on Tuesday, May 21, I know I can help keep us on the right track.  Many thanks for the opportunity to serve, and for entrusting me as a Commissioner in Lower Merion.

 

Editors note:  TAPinto provides candidates running for elected office with space to tell the voters why they are running for that office.  This is a service that TAPinto provides at no charge to the candidates.  Statements are posted as received, with no editorial comment or endorsement of any particular candidate.  Questions and comments about the contents of the statement should be directed to the candidate.  Complaints about inaccuracies should be directed to the editor, Mike Bannan mbannan@tapinto.net.

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