AMBLER >> The heat is on in the borough, as eight candidates — five Democrats and three Republicans — compete for five council seats in the Nov. 7 general election.
In Ward 1, with two seats up for grabs, Democrats Erin McKenna and Nancy Deininger, who is an incumbent, square off against Republican Robert Lagreca.
In Ward 2, which also has two seats in contention, Republican Bill Thornton meets Democrats Glynnis Siskind and Sara Hertz, an incumbent.
In Ward 3, where there is only one contested seat, newcomer Nellie DiPietro, a Democrat, faces off against Salvatore Boccuti, a Republican. In the April primary, DiPietro ousted incumbent Edward Curtis.
Also on the ballot: Current borough tax collector Bernadette Dougherty, a Republican, defends her position against Democratic challenger Jennifer Stomsky.
Mayor Jeanne Sorg, a Democrat, is running for re-election unopposed.
A community meeting will be held at Ambler Borough Hall on Thursday, Nov. 2. During this free event, Ambler residents running for borough council and Wissahickon School Board will present their stump speeches and participate in a Q&A forum with community members. The event, which is nonpartisan — meaning no campaign materials will be allowed — begins at 6:30 p.m. Ambler Borough Hall is located at 131 Rosemary Ave.
Last week, The Ambler Gazette issued a short questionnaire to the eight council hopefuls, asking them to state their qualifications, motivations and main priorities. Each candidate was permitted roughly 50 words per response.
The following are their submissions, some lightly edited for length or clarity.
Occupation: Building substitute at Wissahickon High School
Political party: Democrat
Describe any relevant experience: I have been the Ward 1 councilperson for about four years. I have lived in Ambler for more than 30 years and have raised my family here. I have a BFA from Temple University, Tyler School of Art (‘82) and a Master’s Degree in Education from Arcadia University (‘02). I volunteer often in my community, as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader for many years, a church volunteer at St. Anthony’s teaching CCD for 15 years, and a Eucharistic Minister, helping with a communion service at Springhouse Estates for the last nine years. I also volunteer at most of Ambler Main Street events: Oktoberfest, Ambler Christmas Parade, Ambler Arts & Music Fest, and the Ambler Bike Race.
Why are you running for this position? I have thoroughly enjoyed my time council. I feel we have accomplished many things these past few years: being the first borough in Montgomery County to have a Human Rights Commission, helping to establish the Edgewood Preserve open space, helping pass the anti-gerrymandering resolution (the first municipality in Montgomery to do so), supporting The Ambler Food Co-op, which is now the beautiful new Weavers Way. I want to continue to help make Ambler the best it can be!
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? I have been working on getting our council meetings filmed and available online for those who cannot make our meetings. I believe in transparency in government.
Additional comments: I am truly lucky to live a such a great little town! I look forward to continuing all of the work that has helped our town grow. We are a progressive town and I want to help maintain the progress!
Robert C. Lagreca
Occupation: Real estate appraiser
Political party: Republican
Describe any relevant experience: I have been on the Ambler Borough Planning Commission for 20 years, and the chair since 2015. My professional experience as a partner in a real estate appraisal firm, my role as treasurer and incoming vice president of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of the Appraisal Institute, and my background as a Temple University graduate of the Fox School of Business all give me the expertise to be an effective councilperson.
Why are you running for this position? I have been approached previously about becoming more deeply involved in the Borough of Ambler, but now that my children are young adults, and my role as a volunteer in many local organizations, including their schools, AJB, WRA, and CYO have come to an end, I see myself as having the time to devote to improving the quality of life for Ambler residents and make a meaningful impact.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? Increase parking options including signage and shared parking; enhance the borough’s parks and recreation and open spaces; work with surrounding municipalities regarding management of local creeks to better regulate stormwater flow into the borough; reinforce Ambler’s partnership with Ambler Main Street to boost the expansion and success of the business community.
Additional comments: As an Ambler Planning Commission member over the last 20 years, I have been at the forefront of the redevelopment and renaissance of the Butler Avenue corridor as a destination that has enhanced the quality of life, real estate values and amenities for everyone in Ambler. Our status as a walkable community has increased demand for homes and businesses, and I wish to see that continue by increasing the collaboration between borough council, the planning commission and the Environmental Advisory Council.
Erin McKenna Endicott
Occupation: I have over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry. I most recently managed the restaurant at Forest & Main. I am currently back in school pursuing a degree in environmental engineering while enjoying life at home with my 4-year-old daughter.
Political party: Democratic
Years of relevant experience: I am proud to have helped the borough purchase Edgewood Preserve as permanently protected open space. I helped to organize Ambler’s EarthFest, a day of educational outreach. I have completed the course in community planning offered by the Montgomery County Planning Commission for municipal officials, in order to effectively carry out their responsibilities.
Why are you running for this position? Simple, I love Ambler! I am inspired by the resilience, dedication, and creativity of this close-knit community. I want to be a part of influencing policies that encourage business, industry, and residents to make choices that positively impact sustainable development. I hope to bring a fresh perspective to council discussions.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? Work towards a more economically and environmentally sustainable borough. Inspire active citizenship by encouraging residents to participate in planning and development. Try a more creative, multi-pronged approach to alleviate the parking problems we face, to the mutual benefit of residents and businesses alike.
Additional comments: I’d love to hear from you! Please visit my website, ErinMcKennaEndicott.com or find me on facebook.com/ErinMcKennaEndicott to find out more about my goals for Ambler and to let me know what matters most to you.
Occupation: Nonprofit leader. I have 30 years of experience raising money for a range of nonprofits. Half of this time has been spent working for international environmental conservation organizations.
Political Party: Democrat
Describe any relevant experience: I am completing my first two-year term on council and am proud of the legislation we have been able to achieve. In addition, I sit on the board of the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association and have also served as a trustee of a private school. In my professional life, I manage large teams of people and budgets in millions of dollars. I also make decisions regarding how to allocate funds across an organization. I am proud to have been a cofounder of the Ambler Farmers Market. I also worked personally and as a councilperson to secure the Edgewood Preserve.
Why are you running for this position? I have spent the past 18 months learning the workings of our local government. Through collaboration and dialogue, council has accomplished a great deal. We created the Human Relations Commission, were the first entity in Montgomery County to support fair districting, approved the creation of a new park with enthusiastic citizen involvement, and recently passed a new ordinance to better manage the borough’s stormwater. I am committed to making Ambler a safe, healthy, and enjoyable community for everyone who lives here.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? Continued investment in parks and green spaces; making sure that Ambler successfully balances our thriving businesses and the quality of life of our residents; finding ways to provide incentives to residents and businesses that invest in options that have a lower impact on our environment, such as solar panels and pervious surfaces.
Additional comments: This past year has provided me with a valuable introduction to the workings of our local government. I sit on the Parks and Recreation and Salary and Personnel committees, and have been fully engaged in setting priorities, allocating budgets, and discussing a range of topics. I hope to continue to serve effectively.
Political party: Democrat
Describe any relevant experience: After graduating from Penn State, I worked in advertising for 10 years before leaving the paid workforce to have two kids and do lots of volunteer work. Most recently, I was a board member of Lower Gwynedd Elementary’s Home and School Association for eight years, working in many different capacities but with a focus on communication and administration. I also serve on the board of the Wissahickon Educational Opportunities Foundation.
Why are you running for this position? I know that the experience I’ve gained working to make a difference at our school will help me to make a difference in our town, too. I love Ambler, and have the time, energy, and skills to work hard to make it the best town it can be for everyone lucky enough to live, work or play here.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? Balancing growth with existing needs; improving transparency and communication; making the borough a leader in environmental stewardship; working with other groups that serve borough residents (Wissahickon Valley Public Library, Wissahickon School District, etc.); listening and doing my homework before making decisions.
Note: Bill Thornton could not be reached by press time.
Salvatore A. Boccuti
Occupation: Aerial photographer
Political party: Republican
Describe any relevant experience: Ambler Borough Planning Commission for the past nine years; former cochair of the BoRit Community Advisory Group and a member since its inception in 2007; regularly attend borough council and zoning hearing board meetings. I’m up-to-date on Ambler’s policies and issues.
Why are you running for this position? I would like to contribute to the community. Being a lifetime resident of Ambler, along with my participation in borough activities, gives me the knowledge and experience to help keep Ambler a safe and healthy place to live and work — and being on council would give me the opportunity to do that.
If elected, what issue would you make a priority? Health and safety of the residents is Job #1. I believe the answer to controlling the stormwater in Ambler is a regional concern and will work towards engaging the surrounding municipalities in constructive dialog to address that issue. Also, I advocate more citizen participation in borough activities.
Additional comments: It is extremely important for all citizens to come out and vote on Nov. 7!
Occupation: Executive assistant
Political party: Democrat
Describe any relevant experience: I am a proud mother, certified math teacher, registered financial principal, dedicated pet owner, vegetarian cook, and enthusiastic hula hooper. I welcome the challenge this position brings, and I look forward to getting things done in a positive, professional manner. For more information or to contact me, please go to nelliedipietro.com!
Why are you running for this position? I decided to get involved in politics last year, in response to the election. I started going to as many meetings as possible, in Ambler and elsewhere, to gain a deeper understanding of the democratic process and how citizens manage their towns. It takes time, effort, and experience to improve the world around us — one day at a time.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? If elected to borough council I’ll represent my constituents to the best of my ability — by fighting for transparent growth, community development, environmental stewardship, and social justice. Our council has achieved a great deal to make Ambler the flourishing borough it is today. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on many initiatives, including powering borough buildings with solar panels. Ambler could be a trailblazer in municipal renewable energy. We have an Environmental Advisory Council that’s ready, willing, and able to lead the charge!
Additional comments: Last month the letter my friend Hope wrote to the Gazette about me got published: http://bit.ly/2gyQS44.