McGarrigle and Kearney vie for the next Senate seat

By Valerie Battaglia

Pennsylvania State Sen. Tom McGarrigle’s seat at the open-forum debate at the Springfield Township Building. Photo by Valerie Battaglia
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State Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-26) smiles for a photo in his office space. Photo by Taylor Applegate
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Citizen Mayor of Swarthmore Democrat Tim Kearney greets voters and their children after the debate at the Springfield Township Building. Photo by Valerie Battaglia
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Citizen Mayor of Swarthmore Tim Kearney’s seat at the open-forum debate at the Springfield Township Building. Photo by Valerie Battaglia

Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R-26) and Democratic Citizen Mayor Swarthmore Tim Kearney, held an open-forum debate on Oct. 24 at the Springfield Township building to tackle issues relevant to Pennsylvania’s 26th District.

The debate was moderated by Mary Jo Gilsdorf and sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

Kearney and McGarrigle discussed topics, such as the legalization of recreational marijuana, gang violence, healthcare reform, and equitable education.

There was about a 20 minute delay due to a third-party videographer refusing to adhere to the no-recording policy. Along with the room cheering to kick the individual out, locals could be overheard muttering their annoyances.

“I’m giving it five more minutes and then I’m leaving,” said one husband to his wife, who agreed that the debate didn’t seem worth the wait.

Towards the end of the debate, the candidates were asked for their opinion on smear campaigning.

“Some of my opponent’s ads about me are almost funny, they’re so outrageous.” Kearney said, “If anything, they’re helping me get my name out there.”

McGarrigle responded by noting that most of the individuals in the room were ignorant of Kearney’s online presence.

“Most of you aren’t aware of his Twitter,” McGarrigle said, “He calls me a racist, a country club Republican, and ‘millionaire McGarrigle’ on social media. Probably because he doesn’t have any campaign money to say it in the mail.”

McGarrigle went on to say his opponent’s liberal views did not reflect the values of either party in the 26th District.

“[Kearney] has very liberal views that I really don’t believe are the views of all the residents, Republican or Democrat, in the 26th District,” he said, to which a member of the audience interjected, “Yes, they are.”

When McGarrigle continued to comment on Kearney being in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana use, the audience gasped before lapsing into whispers and laughter.

“It is a gateway drug,” McGarrigle said. “To make another drug accessible, when we’re losing thousands and thousands of young people to the greatest opioid crisis in America, would be horrible to the residents [of Pennsylvania].”

One of the first topics the candidates responded to was healthcare.

Kearney said he believes healthcare is a basic right and supports the expansion of Medicaid, which covered an additional 700,000 Pennsylvanians after the Affordable Care Act was implemented. McGarrigle said he is determined to fight for more affordable prescriptions and opposes government provided health insurance.

“The last thing you want is government in your healthcare,” McGarrigle said. “This is what we did to the veterans of America, and the medical treatment they got at [Veteran Affairs] hospitals is terrible.”

Afterwards, McGarrigle said that he is working on a new funding formula for schools in the 26th district, but did not elaborate on the possible bill. Kearney agrees that this formula would be a step in the right direction.

“Harrisburg is funding the 26th District seventeen cents on the dollar, while other school districts are getting seventy-eight cents on the dollar,” McGarrigle said, “42 percent of school taxes come from our counties. We’re paying our fair share.”

Later, the candidates were asked for their opinion on the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

“We are just in the infancy of medical marijuana,” Kearney said. “So we should go slowly and start heading in that direction.”

McGarrigle said that he supported the use of medical marijuana, but not recreational.

When prompted on the effectiveness of smear campaigning, Kearney said he does not believe it works. McGarrigle noted that most of the individuals in the room were unaware of Kearney’s online presence.

Shortly thereafter, McGarrigle said Kearney’s liberal views do not reflect the values of either party in the 26th District, to which a member of the audience begged to disagree. McGarrigle responded by bringing up Kearney’s stance on the legalization of recreational marijuana use, which prompted an audible response from the audience.

One of the last questions presented pertained to Chester gang violence spilling into Springfield, considering the shooting that occured at the Springfield Mall on Oct. 20.

Kearney believes the general issue of gang violence begs a bigger question altogether.

“The recent shooting could have happened anywhere,” McGarrigle said. “I say we charge him with attempted murder for every bullet he fired and lock him away forever.”

McGarrigle left immediately after the open forum ended. Kearney stayed to take pictures with voters and their children.

“This isn’t about running against my opponent,” Kearney said. “It is about Republicans in general and bringing more liberal Democratic views into this district.”

At the time this newspaper goes to press, the 26th District of the Pennsylvania senatorial general election is too close to call.

Contact Valerie Battaglia at

Congressional candidates face off for district seats

By Alexia Davis

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The League for Women Voters (LWV) and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted a debate for the 5th (and 7th) U.S. Congressional District on Oct. 25 in the Large Auditorium at Marple Campus.

The candidates are the first to run in an election for the 5th District, which was established after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew district lines for the congressional map.

The 5th District includes Delaware County and part of Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

The debate between Republican Pearl Kim and Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon drew a large crowd. The room was packed with people, all sitting or standing in aisles and along the back wall.

“I just want to hear what both candidates have to say,” said Kadin Bard, a Delaware County resident. “My main thing is the economy, and I hope that one of them is able to keep taxes low.”

The 7th District will be listed as a special election on the ballot. Kim or Scanlon will be elected to complete the term for the U.S. House seat left vacant after the resignation of U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-7) in April of this year.

Scanlon, 59, is pro bono counsel for Ballard Spahr. She oversees approximately 600 lawyers in 15 offices across the country who provide pro bono legal services to low-income clients and nonprofit organizations.

Scanlon has been a civil rights lawyer for more than 35 years and has addressed issues including immigration, child advocacy, and voting rights. She explained her motivation for running for office.

“The administration is telling us not to believe what we can see in front of our faces,” Scanlon said. “And Congress isn’t listening.”

Kim, 39, a former special victims’ prosecutor, has led the attorney general’s campus security initiative before leaving to campaign full-time.

Prior to that, Kim served in the Special Victims and Domestic Violence Division at the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office. She explained to the audience why she is running for office.

“I was frustrated with the current climate of Washington, …and politicians [who] could not work across the aisle for the common good,” Kim said.

Regardless of the results on Nov. 6, history will be made when, for the first time, a woman is elected to represent the Delaware County region in the U.S. Congress.

The debate started with each candidate delivering her opening statement. The moderator then asked questions which were created by audience members and screened for relevance by the LWV prior to the start of the event.

Delaware County residents Sara Arnold and Jonathon Wilson wanted to hear where the candidates stood on climate change and the environment, as well as how immigrants are treated in this country.

Dawn Maxfield, a copy editor and Delaware County resident, said her primary concern is healthcare.

“I have a son with a pre-exiting condition, so that’s what’s important to me,” Maxfield said.

The candidates covered a range of issues, including healthcare, the national deficit, gun control, education and the opioid crisis.

Toward the middle of the debate, the exchange between Kim and Scanlon on the topic of campaign finance reform drew “oohs” from the audience.

Kim spoke to the importance of campaign finance reform so that qualified individuals have the means to run for political office.

According to Kim, majority of her campaign funding comes from herself, family and friends.

“[While] we do agree that we need significant campaign finance reform, I didn’t know Senator [Patrick] Toomey (R-Pa.) was one of your family, friends, or an immigrant.” Scanlon told Kim.

Kim responded by expressing her appreciation for the campaign support she has received from local Republicans and Sen. Toomey.

“But let’s be very real,” Kim retorted. “This is Pearl Kim versus Ballard Spahr.”

The debate lasted about an hour and ended with closing statements.

Both candidates thanked the LWV and NAACP for organizing the event and told the audience why each of them deserves the vote in the midterm election.

“Congress is not doing its job,” Scanlon said when describing what she hopes to change if elected. “It’s not legislating in a way to help the people in this district, and it’s not acting as a check on the worst impulses of the Trump administration.”

Kim spoke last, and stepped out from behind the podium to deliver her final statement.

“I am running to change the narrative,” Kim told the audience. “I am running to shake up both establishments, both Republicans and Democrats, and to remind everyone that the government is supposed to work for us!”

As this newspaper goes to press, Scanlon has a significant lead in District 5 and District 7.

Contact Alexia Davis at communitarian@mail.dccc. edu

‘They Call me Q’: one woman’s journey to self-discovery

By Dominique Smack




The multi-talented Qurrat Ann Kadwani brought her unique one-woman show to the DCCC stage on Oct. 30 in a charismatic performance that kept the audience intrigued, laughing, and craving more.

“They Call Me Q” is an off-Broadway stage play about how one woman seeks balance between her own cultural identity and acceptance in the American culture.

Kadwani, who wrote and produced the play, takes a comical and relatable approach to capturing her personal journey as a Hindu American woman growing up in Brooklyn, NY.

Through a multitude of characters, and sometimes prop changes, Kadwani swiftly transitions from her cultural stricken mother to her countless classmates in a unique way that allows us to get so engulfed in the performance that we tend to overlook the idea that there is only one woman adorning the stage.

The first south Asian female to have a solo play, Kadwani has won several awards, including Best Actress, Best Play, NYS Assemblyman and a plethora of others.

Her performances have occurred in more than 35 states, as well as colleges campuses worldwide.

Kadwani may look familiar to some, as she is not a stranger to television. She has starred in familiar shows, such as “Law and Order,” “The Blacklist,” and “Luke Cage.” Kadwani also teaches private lessons in Brooklyn for aspiring students in many areas of film and production.

The story of her name is the opening dialogue of “They Call me Q,” wherein Q explains as a child the struggles of having a Hindu name in America, while concealing her full name till the very end.

The play begins with Kadwani jumping right into dialogue, her boisterous tone revealing her story from birth and how their family migrated to America, ultimately residing in Bronx, NY, where she learns to call the “ghetto” home.

With her family being Islamic and originating from India, Kadwani incorporates the Islamic and Hindu language into the performance, attaching a detailed glossary for those who weren’t familiar with the terms.

Through the hour-long show, Kadwani touches on issues and experiences that have shaped her, providing new insight for anyone that may be experiencing the cultural pressure to stay true to oneself while adapting to the ways of the world.

Kadwani takes us on an extensively detailed dialogue from her grade school days where she suffered with not being accepted by her peers, to her strongly wanting to be included in the Latin American culture by adorning herself in gaudy gold jewelry, to the high school days where she’s taunted and ridiculed for being the “poor” Indian girl with the “red dot” on her head. All the while, she struggled to fight the desire for social acceptance.

Kadwani’s performance highlights some of the issues a college student could face today, including her first run-in with police while using a fake ID bar hopping, and one of her best friends committing suicide shortly after what seemed to be the time of their lives.

Woven throughout the performance are important life lessons. Most notably is the scene when Q visits her cousin in India in her adult life. Her cousin says to her, “You can start over if you want. People will notice and embrace.”

In this scene, Kadwani is assuring her audience that everyone can start over and transform.

This lesson was particularly valuable to me, being a college student and identifying with the ability to shift into a different life at any moment.

In short, Kadwani finds a way to make us feel her story, live it through her in a sense.

We laugh as she takes us on her highs, and we fall silent with empathy as she shares her lows.

Toward the end of her performance, Kadwani lures the audience back to her name, pronouncing her full name in a confident, proud tone as lights dim, and the audience celebrates this amazing performance.

Contact Dominique Smack at

EPA employee inspires students

By Keona Bonamy

Delaware County Community College’s Marple campus held an event titled “Movin’ on up: Living the African American Dream” on Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. to noon in the STEM building.

The event, which featured EPA program analyst Ryan Maxwell, was sponsored by the Black and Latino Male Empowerment Initiative.

A dozen people attended, including faculty and staff, to hear Maxwell speak on her journey, successes, and difficulties as an African American woman, from her college years to her position as a program analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

During the event, Maxwell contrasted the “American dream” and the “African American dream.”

“The typical American dream is a house, a car, two kids, dog, and a white picket fence,” she said. “[However], many of us do not live in neighborhoods where we can have white picket fences.”

Maxwell received her Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University and her Master of Public Policy from the University of Maryland.

As a wife, mother, landlord and program analyst for the U.S. EPA for over nine years, Maxwell had many life lessons and experiences to share.

One significant experience was being the only African American woman on the board of directors of the Harrisburg International Airport.

“People don’t realize or understand how much diversity really just adds to the conversation,” she said.

Although this job was completely voluntary, Maxwell believed this was an avenue for change in her community.

She decided to take this opportunity to be a “voice for [her] people, at the table,” adding that money cannot always be the motive for doing things.

This mindset was present when Maxwell served as councilwoman for her small hometown of Steelton, Pa.

When Steelton’s mayor stepped down, Maxwell reviewed all the application letters wherein people described what they would do for the community if given the opportunity to serve as a council member.

Maxwell said she then realized none of the letters included why they were not doing anything for the community presently.

With that in mind, Maxwell agreed to serve as councilwoman for seven months. She described the experience as a “short, but a worthwhile experience” because it allowed her to get to know her neighbors and serve her community in a capacity she never imagined.

Maxwell explained what the African American dream means to her.

“I wanted to be college educated,” she said. “At one point that means having a PHD…something about ‘Dr. Ryan’ sounded good. That wasn’t in the cards for me, mainly because of student loans.”

Maxwell said she feels that the students at the college are already on the right path.

“College can be one of the biggest financial decision that you will ever make,” Maxwell said, elaborating on the financial benefits of community college.

Maxwell began her lecture by posing the question “What is the African American dream?” She followed up by asking each student to share their 10-year goals.

A student member of the Black and Latino Male Empowerment Initiative, who preferred to be known only as “Freddy,” shared his goals.

“Ten years, God willing, I start a motivational speaking company,” Freddy said. “My goal is to grow my business to the point where I can create generational opportunities for my family.”

Maxwell said that she understood and respected what Freddy said about creating a legacy. She described the first step to a legacy, life insurance and a will. Maxwell said in the African American community life insurance and wills are overlooked.

“When I look back at my time at Penn State and my Caucasian classmates, then I look to where I am at today, the difference between me and my friends is a will and life insurance,” she added.

Next, Maxwell discussed her voluntary position at Harrisburg International Airport, which led to another voluntary position as councilwoman for her hometown of Steelton.

According to Maxwell, her councilwoman position allowed her to have a “seat at the table” and offer an African American presence at meetings attended by majority white committees.

During the candid lecture, Maxwell emphasized that she does not want students’ goals to be something they turn away from.

“You never know which opportunity is going to build on something else,” Maxwell added.

Later, Maxwell explained that 10 years ago, she was unsure of what she wanted to do with her life, and that taking opportunities and stepping outside of her comfort zone helped her achieve her goals.

Maxwell’s said that her African American dream was to be married to a black man that would love her, care for her and understand her struggles and experiences. She also wanted a six figure income and a college education.

Afterwards, Maxwell discussed her experience as a student at a predominantly white institution.

At the time, Penn State had an African American population that was less than three percent. She visited her alma mater recently for a black alumni reunion and learned that the population has grown to about six percent.

Maxwell concluded her presentation by offering advice to the students. She encouraged them to not be embarrassed for who they are.

“As young black people, you will face so many issues,” Maxwell said. “It is very important to live your life above the fold. To live in a way where you make people proud to say they know you.”

Contact Keona Bonamy at

Pennocks Bridge campus welcomes college president

By Meredith Haas

Special to The Communitarian

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Dr. L. Joy Gates Black addresses students and faculty members while visiting the Pennocks Bridge campus. Photo by Meredith Haas
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Dr. L. Joy Gates Black and Kevin Ballisty, director of the Pennocks Bridge campus, speak on issues brought up in the discussion. Photo by Meredith Haas

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President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black visited Pennocks Bridge campus on Oct. 30 to hold an open discussion among students and faculty members.

Having visited Pennocks Bridge campus for the college’s 50th Anniversary, Gates Black’s interest radiated with the attention she provided to the campus director, Kevin Ballisty, as they walked through the halls to Room B137.

Gates Black situated herself at the front of the room as Ballisty introduced her to the audience she came to know in the next hour.

“For you who have been here the longest, I hope that you share the things you feel you truly appreciate about this campus,” Ballisty said to the audience. “Also things you want to see change would be great for not only us, but the college as a whole.”

With this introduction, Gates Black took the stage as everyone got situated into their seats. The room was filled with quiet students and faculty members, all preparing themselves for the discussion to begin.

“I joined the college in June of 2017, and it has been a wonderful journey for me,” Gates Black said. “I have enjoyed meeting so many students, and I listen to every single one of their suggestions.”

Gates Black opened a discussion by informing the audience that her door is always open and she is always listening. She explained that her approach to working with people does not come from a textbook, but from her life experience.

Whether it was in her hometown of Texas, when she moved to New England, or when she was introduced to DCCC while in California, Gates Black said she always took note of her experiences and the wisdom that came with them.

“My parents were not wealthy, but I was an honors student,” Gates Black said. “My parents could not afford to send me to college so I went into the Air Force. I know what it is like when you need a little bit of direction and that is why I always found a kinship when I got to the community college experience.”

This kinship carries heavily in all that Gates Black does. She described her admiration for the aspiration and drive that is so common among community college students.

“The students that go here want an education, no matter what the end plan is,” Gates Black said. “They have a pathway, and that is really appealing to me.”

Gates Black described this as a commonality among community colleges, recognizing the determination students at both DCCC and her past jobs have.

“When I saw this opportunity to come to DCCC it really interested me,” Gates Black said. “I did my dissertation research at Brenmar College, and so coming back here was like coming home to me.”

Gates Black recognized how many smiles she often sees around campus and attributed them to every student’s determination and purpose.

After speaking with students and faculty members about various topics surrounding DCCC, Gates Black acknowledged the potential of the campus and wrapped up the discussion.

“This is a wonderful campus, not perfect, but all who are here are committed,” Gates Black said. “Thank you all for being here today and I am glad you came out.”


Contact Meredith Haas at