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WEST CHESTER — The wind and rain couldn’t keep candidates away from the Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center Friday night for an informal meet and greet with the public.
The West Chester National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted the night’s gathering where numerous county and borough candidates running for election in November came out.
“The president (of the West Chester NAACP) said to me a couple weeks ago that we should do something with the candidates,” said Alice Hammond, political action chair of the West Chester NAACP. “I said we used to do something with candidates before I became president.”
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During those times, the candidates would sit up front with index cards with questions and have a debate.
With not enough time to arrange something as formal as a debate, Hammond instead coordinated the meet and greet.
“These people are busy,” she said. “I thought an informal meet and greet was perfect. There’s no pressure, no one has to talk about the other person and they can meet with the community.”
Despite the rain, 20 candidates came out for the evening, from both the county and borough levels.
The candidates included Kathi Cozzone, Terrence Farrell, Michelle Kichline, Bill Scott, Julia Malloy-Good, Allison Bell Royer, Tom Hogan, Jon Long, Marian Vito, Carolyn Bunny Welsh, James Bell, Terri Clark, Lani Frank, Rick Loughery, Hans van Mol, Tisha Brown, Matt Holliday, Matthew Morley, Jim Jones and Diane LeBold.
For the informal evening, there was still a format.
Each candidate would be introduced and be able to say what they’re running for, but after that, Hammond just had two questions for them to answer.
“Their questions were what does that position do and why do you want to run for that office?” she said. “It’s not, ‘why are you better than the other person’ – no bashing. Just why are you running?”
The candidates were able to give their answers to a crowd – albeit a small one. The weather may not have turned away many candidates, but the community wasn’t as big, though they did have about 50 people come throughout the night.
There were times the candidates outnumbered the crowd, but that was still OK for Hammond and even the candidates themselves.
“I’m glad that the candidates did (come out),” LeBold said. “People need to see their faces in the flesh. I think that’s really important.”
It was even more impressive to Hammond, especially since many of the candidates were also invited out to an event in Kennett Square on the same evening, which many left for after they gave their little speech.
“I’m impressed that they all came, and in this weather,” she said. “It’s important. Even if there’s not a lot of people here, the word will get out that they care. I feel proud.”