With new leadership, Delaware County can move in a progressive direction that buries forever its reputation as a bastion of pay-to-play cronyism.

In one of the latest scandals, bribery charges have been filed against county employee Fred Moran for allegedly using his position as a Haverford Township commissioner to favor cronies in the sale of the old Haverford State Hospital property.

New leadership must begin at the County Council level, where three incumbents - Andrew J. Reilly, Mary Alice Brennan, and Michael V. Puppio - are not seeking reelection.

Other issues facing Council include Philadelphia Airport's noisy flight path; preserving open space; revitalizing urban areas; lowering crime, which has swelled the county prison population; and proceeding with expansion of that lockup.

There hasn't been a Democrat on Council since the Home Rule Charter enacted 30 years ago eliminated two-party government. A voice who will question business-as-usual is sorely needed if true change is to occur.

For the Democratic nomination, The Inquirer endorses ANN O'KEEFE, DAVID LANDAU and ROCCO POLIDORO. Each would bring a brighter vision for the county's future.

Polidoro, 54, a Springfield insurance agent, says he quit the Republican Party after growing tired of fighting from within the local GOP machine, led by Charlie Sexton.

O'Keefe, 47, a Haverford attorney, says she would work to bring "fiscal responsibility, transparency, and fair, ethical business practices" to Council.

Landau, 53, a native of Havertown, is a former ACLU lawyer now with Wolff Block Schorr and Solis-Cohen. He says one-party rule in the county has simply been a "disgrace."

The three Republican candidates who seem best prepared to move the county to a new, progressive era are CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON, THOMAS McGARRIGLE and RICK LACEY.

Lacey, 51, a Springfield insurance agent, failed in three prior elections without the local party's endorsement. He doesn't have its backing this time either, but that could be because he has the independence this Council needs.

Fizzano Cannon, 37, is a lawyer and in her second term as a Middletown Township commissioner. Preserving open space is a priority and she pledges to be a "strong advocate for fiscal responsibility."

McGarrigle, 48, is the owner of an auto repair business in Springfield. In 2003, he was elected to the Springfield Township Commission. He says he's proud of his record as a commissioner of not letting politics derail fiscal responsibility.

Fizzano Cannon and McGarrigle are party-endorsed candidates, as is Haverford Township Commissioner Andy Lewis. But reform-minded Republicans should be wary of Lewis, who as a commissioner didn't see the conflict in voting on public contracts with a company, Independence Blue Cross, upon whose board he sits.