Democrats held on to their Delaware County Council seats in Tuesday’s election, posts they had wrested from Republicans after more than a century of historically GOP control.
After what appeared to be a potential reclaiming of two seats lost by Republicans in 2017, the unofficial final tally saw Kevin Madden and Richard Womack hold on to the council seats for Democrats. After an early Wednesday morning lead, Republicans Frank Agovino and Joseph Lombardo Jr. each trailed their opponents by more than 1%.
The five-member county council, controlled by Republicans since before the Civil War, flipped to all-Democrat control in 2019. Democrats first won two seats in 2017. One of those elected in 2017 was Madden.
The 2019 flip to complete Democratic control changed the political landscape of the Philadelphia suburbs. After Democrats won two seats on the council in 2017, they used a wave of anti-Trump sentiment to help bolster three more candidates to successful runs for council in 2019.
Two attorneys — Elaine Schaefer and Christine Reuther — and Monica Taylor, a professor at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, joined fellow Democrats Brian Zidek and Madden in the 2019 election.
Zidek opted not to seek reelection this year, clearing the way for Womack to take his seat. Womack had previously run in 2015 but fell short.
Madden said the victory shows “a pretty clear affirmation of the progress we’ve made over these past few years.”
”I think it really is an endorsement of the change we’ve effectuated over the last few years,” Madden said. “The voters of Delaware County wanted to turn the page on the old way of doing things, and they have appreciated the openness we’ve brought to county government.”
Unlike other nearby counties, Delaware County’s charter does not require minority representation on the county council. Council members are elected to four-year terms.
The Delaware County Council decides how the county’s budget is spent and makes decisions regarding the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Until recently, the facility was the only privately run county jail in Pennsylvania.
But early last month, the council voted unanimously to return control of the jail to the public, with the county taking over all management duties.
The council also began the process of starting its own health department. Chester County had to act as Delaware County’s health department during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Staff writer Vinny Vella contributed to this article.