AMBLER >> With plenty of competition on the ballot, Democrats hoping to win a seat on borough council have their work cut out for them ahead of primary day.
Five Ambler Borough Council seats are up for grabs in November — two in Ward 1, two in Ward 2, and one in Ward 3 — and nine Democrats have thrown their hats in the ring. The May 16 primary election will whittle those nine down to five.
With only one candidate per ward on the ballot, every Republican in the running is expected to advance to the general election.
Here’s what ballots will look like in Ambler voting booths May 16.
In Ward 1, Erin McKenna Endicott, Peter A. Amento, and incumbent Nancy J. Deininger are in competition with one another; Robert C. Lagreca is the lone Republican candidate. Council member Sharon McCormick will not be seeking re-election.
In Ward 2, Incumbent Sara Hertz, Karen A. Polesir, Mishell Spigelmyer and Glynnis Siskind are squaring off; Republican Bill Thornton is the sole candidate for the GOP. Council member Jonathan Sheward will not be seeking re-election.
In Ward 3, Nellie A. DiPietro goes up against incumbent Edward M. Curtis; Salvatore A. Boccuti is holding it down for the Republicans.
Also on the ballot: Mayor Jeanne Sorg is running for re-election unopposed.
The Ambler Gazette recently issued a short questionnaire to the nine Democratic hopefuls, asking them to state their qualifications, motivations, and main priorities. Each candidate was permitted roughly 150 words per response.
The following are their submissions, lightly edited for clarity.
Peter A. Amento
Occupation: Retired mechanical electrical high-voltage switchgear designer
Years of relevant experience: Eight years Ambler Borough Council. A current member of the Ambler Borough Planning Commission with over 12 years experience.
Why are you running for this position? My experience has provided me with valuable insight into how our government is meant to function. My goal is to continue to build our tax base through responsible commercial development, work to remediate the Brown Fields and maintain open communication with the residents of Ambler.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? I will continue to hold borough taxes level through operating an efficient government, and give others the opportunity to voice their opinions and consider what is most important to them. The activity in downtown Ambler is one area I want to see continued. Also a priority is ensuring the borough residents are protected from the dangers of asbestos.
Additional comments: I have always been accessible to constituents and have always met with them when requested. I ask for your vote on May 16 so together, we can continue to make a great place even better.
Nancy J. Deininger
Occupation: Educator. Currently the building substitute at Wissahickon High School.
Years of relevant experience: Four years as Ward 1 council member.
Why are you running for this position? I am running for re-election. I have enjoyed the past few years serving the borough and the community.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? I would like to see the council meetings taped so that the community that is unable to come out to the meetings can view them. I believe in transparency in government and think an involved electorate is best! I feel that our elected officials need to be accessible and approachable; my email and phone number are on the borough website. If a constituent has an issue I encourage them to contact me! I may not always agree with them but I am always willing to listen! Here is a list of some of the accomplishments council has had the past few years: first municipality in Montgomery County to pass an anti-gerrymandering resolution; creation and funding for the Edgewood Preserve; passed a Non-Discrimination Ordinance creating the Human Relations Commission; increased transparency and communication by updating the borough website; and supported the creation of the Ambler Food/Weavers Way Food Co-op.
Additional comments: I have enjoyed the past few years serving my community! I would like to continue to help Ambler continue to be a great community!
Erin McKenna Endicott
Occupation: I have over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry. I most recently worked alongside my husband to open and manage the restaurant side of Ambler’s favorite brewpub, Forest & Main. I am currently back in school pursuing a degree in environmental engineering while enjoying life at home with my 3-year-old daughter. I hope to combine my passion for this town and experience to effect positive change.
Years of relevant experience: Three years ago, I joined a group of neighbors working to protect and preserve some environmentally sensitive open space along the Rose Valley Creek, just upstream from Borough Park. We worked with the borough and successfully raised funds to purchase one of the three lots that were slated to be cleared of its natural habitat and 100-year-old trees. I am proud to have “Edgewood Preserve” as permanently protected open space. Since that time I have closely followed the work of the Environmental Advisory Council, and most recently helped to organize Ambler’s EarthFest, a day of fun and educational outreach for Ambler residents. I just completed a course in community planning offered by the Montgomery County Planning Commission, which covered important information that municipal officials and planning commission members need in order to carry out their responsibilities and do an effective job.
Why are you running for this position? Simple: I love Ambler! While living and working in Ambler Borough for the past eight years I’ve become inspired by the resilience, dedication, and creativity of this close-knit community. Council has the moral responsibility to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A local government has the powerful ability to influence the behavior of the 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 and look forward to enriching this vibrant community that we are all so lucky to call home.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? Work towards a more economically and environmentally sustainable borough. Enhance neighborhoods by encouraging residents to participate in planning and development. Inspiring active citizenship will create a vibrant borough for residents while attracting economic development. Continue to promote and improve sustainable transportation within the borough. Add bike lanes to streets as space allows. Consider alternatives to reduce speeding, such as bulb out crosswalks which narrow the road and effectively reduce speeding. Try a more creative, multi-pronged approach to alleviate the parking problems we face to the mutual benefit of residents and businesses alike: residential permits for those displaced at high volume times, allow employees to park free in underutilized parts of municipal lots, short-term (15/30 minute) parking for quick stops. Consider a “sanctuary ordinance” to promote a culture of trust and cooperation while supporting our most vulnerable community members.
Additional comments: I’d love to hear from you! Please visit my website (www.ErinMcKennaEndicott.com) to find out more about my goals for Ambler and to let me know what matters most to you.
Occupation: Fundraiser, my official title is vice president of development at Conservation International, a global environmental organization.
Years of relevant experience: One year in elected office, 30 years of work experience raising and allocating funds and managing people and budgets.
Why are you running for this position? I had the good fortune to have been elected to council last year and have spent the past year learning the workings of our local government. Through collaboration and dialogue, we have accomplished a great deal over the past year, including the creation of the Human Relations Commission, supporting fair districting, and approving the creation of a new park with enthusiastic citizen involvement. I was one of the co-founders of the Ambler Farmers’ Market and also worked to make the new Edgewood Preserve a reality. I have a deep commitment to making Ambler a safe, healthy, and enjoyable community for all of us.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? Ensuring that Ambler has appropriate representation at larger government levels through the fair districting effort; continuing to invest in parks and green spaces; making sure that Ambler successfully balances its thriving businesses and the quality of life of our residents; finding innovative means to address key environmental concerns, such as stormwater runoff.
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 learning how local government works and hope to continue to serve.
Occupation: Recovery coach in the behavioral health field
Years of relevant experience: Serving Ambler: Seven years as a member of Ambler Main Street, member Human Relations Commission and former member of the EAC. And I was honored to serve on council as an appointed member for six months.
Why are you running for this position?: Ambler is my home and I have had a big part in the recent growth of the borough. I would love to see continued growth and forward thinking regarding the issues that affect all of Ambler’s residents. As a borough we have so much to enjoy together: the future pocket park, the food co-op, and continued business growth for our merchants. I look forward to the honor of serving as a voice for Ward 2 residents.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority?: I would talk with my constituents about the issues and ascertain which issues weighed most heavily with them. I would develop a better understanding of each issue and, once well-educated, vote my conscience and hopefully the collective conscience of Ward 2.
Years of relevant experience: All 48! After graduating from Penn State University, 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’ve been 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.
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? Improving communication between the borough, residents and businesses; balancing commercial growth with the needs of residents; working closely with other groups on issues affecting the borough (EAC, food co-op, WVPL, WSD, etc.); and listening to all information presented and doing my own homework before making decisions on anything.
Occupation: Pharmacy technician / technical coach for Cigna Home Delivery Pharmacy
Years of relevant experience: I have served on the executive boards for both Mattison Avenue Elementary Home and School Association and Wissahickon Educational Opportunities Foundation for a combined total of 10 years.
Why are you running for this position? As a 19-year Ambler Borough resident, I have watched with pride as Ambler has grown and blossomed. I want to work toward making it an even better place to live, to work and to have good time. I am well informed on most issues, and am eager to work hard at learning what I don’t know. Finally, I am particularly responsible with my home finances and would also be with tax dollars. I am opposed to waste in any form.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? I want to promote the progressive spirit in this town. Ambler Borough has already made environmental issues a priority. I would continue to encourage that, as well as to promote new ideas like renewable energy, perhaps making the borough a trailblazer in this effort.
Edward M. Curtis Sr.
Occupation: Retired police officer, retired U.S. Air Force, retired Upper Dublin school bus driver.
Years of relevant experience: Eight consecutive years as a member of Ambler Borough Council.
Why are you running for this position? To continue representing the residents of Ambler, specifically the residents of the third ward. Also, to continue working for the safety of the Ambler Borough residents and maintaining a positive relationship with the police department.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? My primary issue is to maintain safety of Ambler Borough residents and the people who patronize our borough.
Additional comments: I am interested in continuing to honor the public’s trust through sensible scrutiny of borough spending.
Nellie A. DiPietro
Occupation: Executive assistant, community volunteer
Years of relevant experience: 15
Why are you running for this position? I was inspired to run for office at the Women’s March on Washington in January. Their vision statement is “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.” The people behind the Ambler Food Co-op, Farmers Market, Food Cupboard, etc., have shown me by example how to get things done. I want to be an active member of council to make sure all voices are heard.
If elected, what issues would you make a priority? My top priority is to keep an open mind and learn about issues as they arise. I intend to make sure our decisions are based on the prosperity of all residents, rather than a lucky few. Ambler has problems with flooding, potholes, parking, asbestos, etc. I believe we can continue to find answers by working together — with groups such as the Environmental Advisory Council and neighbors like Upper Dublin and Whitpain townships. Voting rights are also important to me, so I was thrilled to attend the council meeting where the first anti-gerrymandering resolution in Montgomery County was passed unanimously!
Additional comments: I respectfully ask for your vote on May 16. To learn more about me, please visit my website: nelliedipietro.com.