Kevin is running for re-election to the Haverford Township Commission because he can see, after one term, that “there’s more work to do” to achieve his goals for our community. He is proud of the work he and his colleagues on the commission have done over the last four years. But a wide-ranging interview made clear that this Havertown native is deeply committed to making more tangible progress in environmental policy and economic development. As well, Kevin aims for a commission that calls on us all to think of the good of the township, not just our separate wards, and one that consciously and consistently projects a “tone” that accurately reflects the 21st century policy priorities and social attitudes of the township’s current residents.
Environmental progress: Great as it was for Haverford Township to be the first municipality in Pennsylvania to set environmental goals of 100% clean renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy for heat and transportation by 2050, Kevin knows that the real work begins now. He is running for re-election out of his belief that follow-up is critical to making good resolutions into real practice. He wants to be part of the governing team that takes the “intentional, practical steps” needed to ensure that the township’s budget includes purchase, for example, of more propane-fueled vehicles (especially for Public Works staff), more LED lighting in all public buildings (like the CREC and Skatium), and very honest, direct communication with residents about the financial as well as environmental gains from more green energy usage. This effort includes vigorous support of our volunteer, appointed Environmental Action Committee.
Economic Development: Kevin is gratified by the recent progress we’ve made in attracting small businesses to the township, including the obvious improvements in Oakmont Village and down Darby Rd. between Eagle and Benedict. But he seeks to enact even more creative use of existing commercial space, say, near train stations; re-zoning for some mixed-use space; and developing smart strategies to make Haverford an inviting, walkable, commercial destination in Delco. He has been a strong advocate for investing township dollars in modernizing streetscapes, improving lighting, providing unmetered parking in small lots, adding grass strips on Eagle Rd. that push the sidewalk back and invite pedestrians. These practical initiatives give our township the modern, prosperous look that attracts business activity.
Kevin’s enduring promise as Ward 3 Commissioner is to serve his ward constituents, but he argues that commercial development benefits all of us, in every ward, by providing more places to shop and eat out while, at the same time, expanding our tax base so residential taxpayers are not carrying so much of the load. It is significant, for Kevin, that only 7% of our tax revenue comes from businesses while Radnor and Lower Merion get 30% of their taxes from business. He aims to work with the other eight commissioners to alter the balance in the tax base by making our township more commercially vibrant in ways that reflect residents’ interests and values. That requires, he says, that “we be smart about using government leverage and market pressures.”
Parks and the Library: Kevin was instrumental in convincing his fellow commissioners to designate $2.5 million for capital improvements at our parks. A “flourishing” park system, he says, is key to healthy property values and a sense of shared community in each neighborhood. Early in his tenure on the commission, Kevin realized that our parks need more than mere maintenance; they require new equipment, regular paving, and other infrastructure attention. We are seeing the first fruits of this budget reform in new equipment at Paddock Park and Merwood Park, but every park in every neighborhood will benefit from this funding.
So, too, every township resident stands to benefit from a modernized library. As one of two liaisons from the township commission to the Haverford Township Free Library, Kevin has learned that 21st-century libraries must serve an array of community needs, from providing books and study spaces, to offering on-site programs and vast online resources, to maintaining the community rooms needed by local organizations.
Re-election will allow him to stay engaged in deliberations over how to meet 21st century library needs. Do we renovate the well-loved, parking-challenged library building that has been a familiar fixture at Darby & Mill Rd. for over 80 years? Or do we build a new library, designed around modern requirements, with a full parking lot and green space, on the site of the old Brookline School on Earlington? Kevin has heard strong arguments for both approaches and knows this is a major inflection point for our township and its much-used library. His engagement in the discussion thus far makes him eager to continue with this important endeavor.
The Future is Now: Kevin is acutely aware that we are facing three big professional retirements in 2019: Larry Gentile, Township Manager; Richard Dougherty, Director of Public Works; and Tim Denny, Director of Parks and Recreation. The individuals that our commissioners hire into these key spots will, as Kevin explains, “set the direction of the township for decades.” Will these new professionals reflect the priorities and values of the township’s residents?
Kevin wants a seat at that decisive table because his four years in office have given him great respect for the direct impact of the employees who carry out the township’s business every day. Going forward, he wants to ensure that township workers and the taxpayers continue to enjoy strong, professional leadership.
Democratic Majority on the Commission? Kevin has grown to respect Republicans on the commission, despite legitimate differences on policy and priorities. He believes a Democratic majority on the commission would shift priorities toward optimal openness and transparency in government, determined budgeting to achieve environmental goals, creative planning for a new library and commercial space, and pro-active messaging that welcomes all residents to the township. He hopes a Democratic majority would also bring a woman’s perspective and experience to the commission.
For Kevin, the value of a Democratic majority comes down to “tone” and values. None of the Republicans on the commission, for example, opposed general publication of the H-CAN report on racial bias and tensions in our schools. But it was the Democrats who had to take the lead on making sure this information was made available, as it was the Democrats who had to make sure that holiday decorations in the administration building include Hanukkah symbols. He observes that the difference in tone is a matter of sensitivity, awareness, and making inclusivity and social justice top priorities in our township.
Managing it all? Kevin and his wife Jennette have three children, aged 10, 7, and 5. How do they manage a busy household, Kevin’s professional life as a lawyer for a Fortune 100 law firm, his commitments as an elected official, and Jennette’s own activities? “We calendar well,” he explains. Experience has taught him to control his urge to attend every local event and to make smart use of technology for communicating with residents and colleagues. Still, if an event doesn’t conflict with family needs, he attends. He’ll often take his daughters along, especially to events that include ice cream cones. Both Kevin and Jennette want their children “to go for things, to not be afraid of losing, to feel a part of their communities.” They figure that Kevin’s role on the Haverford Township Commission teaches their children to live by the values they espouse.
Kevin quickly adds that the always-hectic life of parenthood gets an assist in the McCloskey household because his parents live in town. “We are lucky and grateful to have their help.”