A strange registration; an interesting decade!

In 1979, I was at family gathering at my sister’s house in Bristol Borough.  My brother in law was praising the candidacy of Ronald Reagan in the Republican primary.  “I’ll cancel your vote,” I said.  The next day I registered as a Republican and voted for John Anderson  in the primary.  It’s interesting how such a small action can influence decades.  Anderson lost; Reagan won the primary and the general election; and I was a registered Republican.

Before I changed my registration back to Independent or Democrat, I got a call from the Yardley Republican club.  The parent of an HGP student, Fred Kurtz, invited me to a meeting for candidates for Borough Council.  Months before, I had volunteered to serve on a Borough committee — denied planning or zoning —  I had became a member of the cable TV commission, pretty important.   Now I was being offered the opportunity to run for  Yardley Borough Council.  But as a Republican.

Around this time, I was organizing a  chapter of the Sierra Club in Bucks County.  I called Philadelphia. “Should I run as as a Republican?”   The answer I got cemented my party registration for years.  “Go for it,” the Sierra voice said, “we need environmental activists in the Republican Party. ”  In the Yardley Republican meeting, I got along extremely well with one of my potential running mates, Susan Taylor — a fiscal Republican but very liberal on many issues. We ran together  and won.

In  all honesty, many Bucks County Republican, office holders in the 1980s,  were moderate and I didn’t have a lot of issues with them — in fact I could support People like Jim Greenwood and Dave Heckler.  Once elected to Council, Susan and I forged a fairly liberal thinking group of Yardley Republicans.  Some were Democrats who changed registration once elected to Republican (supported by Taylor-Profy).  For many of us “all politics was local;”  we didn’t support national Repulicans.

Once  on Council, we dealt with a variety of interesting issues.  The designation of a Historic District in much of the downtown area; increased attention to planning  and zoning issues — Orchard Hill ( just being developed today), Nickerson developments at Yardley Commons and the Train Station (threats of a trailer park) and directly behind me on  Morgan Avenue, Canal View or later the Big  House project.

In the early years, I remember thinking that one big difference between being on Council and my life up to that time was Council’s  dependence on a solicitor.  Constantly we asked,  “Was it legal?”  Some issues were major — the State was requiring an Emengency Management Plan.  I went to workshops in Lambertville.  There were minor floods that provoked a lot of citizen response.  Downtown parking (cooperation) was an issue.  And tax hikes — my “R” friend Susan looked at the budget with with a microscope — did the borough need to spend that much on stamps?

Some of the issues we dealt with during the 1980s were a sign of the times — the closing of the the Yardley Pharmacy Luncheonette ( and eventually the entire store)  — and some more were  complex and serious.  For years the Borough struggled with updating of  it’s police force.  In 1989, a police chief search  led  to the arrest (and immediate acquittal)  of Council President Taylor.  A sad but real incident in small town politics.

In my organizational  and clean up mode, I found several scrapbooks of articles from my eight  years on Council. They document  the many issues we faced –historic zoning, emergency management,  a new mayor, a new comprehensive plan, new police chief and the first borough manager.  The  scrapbooks contain articles and campaign literature.  They document a decade of my life as a Republican (yes, a Republican) local office holder.  Interesting and a bit confusing, but as SusanTayor  always said, “If it’s not fun, we shouldn’t be doing it.”  The scrapbooks are destined to be donated to the Yardley Historical Association;  the memories are for ever.

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