2023 Haverford Township Board of Commissioner Candidates
All candidates listed have been endorsed by the Haverford Democrats
Ward 1 Commissioner
Curtis Gittelman has lived in Havertown his whole life. Curtis is honored and excited at the opportunity to join the Board of Commissioners and serve his neighbors in the First Ward.
Ward 3 Commissioner
Kevin has served on the Board of Commissioners since being elected in 2015. Kevin helped establish the Community Welfare Committee and currently serves as the chair of the following committees: Community Welfare, Library Board, and Historical Commission. Kevin is a former Assistant District Attorney in Montgomery County.
Ward 5 Commissioner
Laura Cavender is running for Ward 5 commissioner because she grew up in a family of community volunteers and wants to carry on that legacy by giving back to Haverford some share of what the township has given to her and her family. She is running now, in the Special Election to fill the seat left by Andy Lewis’s death in April, because “when I look at everything happening, I know that if community leaders encourage neighbor-to-neighbor connection and make government more accessible we can build trust in each other and our government.”
Since moving to Haverford Township in 2014, Cavender has been an active member of the Democrats’ Ward 5 Committee, working alongside others in the Precinct 3 to convince the Delco Board of Elections that the voters in her precinct should not have to trek to the Precinct 4 to vote (an old Republican trick to suppress Haverford College votes).
In 2016, she reached out to Andy Lewis – a Republican undergoing his own political evolution – for advice on community service. With his support, Cavender volunteered to join the Haverford Human Relations Commission and now serves at the commission’s vice-chair. Work in the commission has been “eye-opening,” she says. She has learned a lot about township laws and regulations, heard about “experiences residents are having in their neighborhoods,” found ways to direct concerned citizens to appropriate agencies for assistance. She also has benefited from “great discussions” with her fellow commissioners “about how to be sure all people are treated fairly under the law,” and she thinks the township benefits from having a place where residents can voice concerns and communicate with local government.
Cavender’s experience as a communication professional, serving in big organizations like the Red Cross and University of Pennsylvania, gives her a strong set of tools for both decision-making and communicating about those decisions. Having grown up in a small town in southern Missouri, worked in high-level executive positions in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Cavender now welcomes the opportunity to manage her own communications consulting business, work with the “creative, caring” educators in the Haverford School District to build the best possible program for her autistic first-grade son, and serve the community that welcomed her, her husband, and her 3 kids by contributing to the health of Haverford’s government.
Incumbent, Running Unopposed in Democratic Primary
Ward 7 Commissioner
Hannah Turlish is a teacher, activist, and mom who has lived in Ward 7 for 11 years. Hannah is an active and energized community member. Hannah is running for Commissioner again in order to support local working families and find equitable answers for every Township resident.
Ward 9 Commissioner
Monet L. Reilly is a mother of two and a committed and active community member for change. After moving to Haverford 10 years ago, she immediately stepped into spaces and roles to enhance experiences in schools, in equity and inclusion, and in democratic processes.
Township Auditor: Ross Anderson
Ross Anderson was first elected Township Auditor in 2017. At the time, he included among his qualifications the fact that he is Dutch, so “I know how to see to it that your tax dollars are well spent and how to detect waste, fraud and abuse.”
In fact, Anderson came to the job with an MBA degree and years of training in finance and tax accounting. He served as Controller for a large real estate development firm and is now Finance Project Leader for a publicly-traded multinational corporation with an office in Delaware County. As a CPA who has done a lot of tax work, he is very familiar with how Pennsylvania townships are funded.
Anderson grew up in western Michigan. After moving to Philadelphia over 15 years ago, he earned his MBA with a concentration in Accounting from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management. He also trained to compete nationally and internationally as a rower. He now says that he “got close” to making the Olympic team, “but not close enough.” Anderson is still active with the Pennsylvania Athletic Club Rowing Association.
He and his wife chose to live in Havertown when they became parents, attracted to this “very welcoming place” and impressed with the “great schools” and the fact that there is “a park around every corner.” He now has two children growing up in Havertown and feels a strong commitment to ensuring that Haverford Township continues to be a “great, affordable place to live.”
Anderson Facebook Page
Haverford Magisterial District Judge, HT Wards 3,4,5,6, and 8: Elysia J. Mancini-Duerr
As an attorney for Disability Rights Pennsylvania, Elysia Mancini Duerr carries out this non-profit organization’s mission by advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in Orphans’ Court hearings. In her work, Duerr has become known for her skill at legal research and argument, which she has used to develop new approaches to issues like guardianship. Area attorneys consult with Duerr in order to ensure optimal outcomes for persons with disabilities and their families.
Duerr was a founding member of Havertown Community Action Network (H-CAN) in 2017, serving as its Director of Operations for four years and continuing to work an active member of H-CAN’s Climate Action group and its Disability and Accessibility group.
Duerr was born in Passaic, New Jersey but grew up in the Poconos. She moved to Philadelphia to earn a B.A. degree in Art History at Temple University and stayed to earn a JD degree at Temple’s Beasley School of Law. Duerr resided in and around Philadelphia until ten years ago when she and her husband and son (now in middle school) moved to Haverford Township, where Duerr serves as the Judge of Elections for Ward 8, Precinct 3.
Duerr Website; Duerr Facebook page; DONATE to Duerr’s campaign.
Ward 8 Commissioner: Gerry Hart
Dr. Gerry Hart was elected President of the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners in January, 2021. He has served as the commissioner for Ward 8 since 2017 and takes pride in fulfilling his campaign promise to communicate regularly with his Ward 8 constituents and respond to inquiries within 24 hours. In his work on the township commission’s update of the Haverford Comprehensive Plan, Hart describes himself as “committed to maintaining our open space, improving our biking and walking trails, and ensuring the continued strength of our Recreation Department.” When he spoke at the March meeting of the Haverford Democratic Committee, Hart pointed to recent projects, like the Manoa Rd. shoulder strip and extension of the Darby Creek Trail to Burmont Rd. as evidence of recent trail improvements. When he spoke at the March meeting of the Haverford Democratic Committee, Hart pointed to recent projects, like the Manoa Rd. shoulder strip, year-round Sunday closure of Karakung Drive, and extension of the Darby Creek Trail to Burmont Rd. as evidence of recent trail improvements. He also reported on progress with the library renovation since Hart is one of the commission’s liaisons to the Library Board. While parking is not included in the current renovation design, Hart said the commissioners are “committed” to providing parking in the library area.
In 2018, the Board of Commissioners unanimously passed Hart’s resolution setting 2035 as the target date for the township to achieve 100% renewable electricity and 2050 as the target date for 100% renewable heat and transportation. Hart strongly supports measures that will lead to growth of the township’s business community as a way of broadening the tax base and making Haverford a destination location.
Dr. Hart is a board-certified physician in both Family Medicine and Geriatrics. He left full-time practice in 2016, having delivered care in underserved Philadelphia communities for 25 years. He now practices on a part-time basis. Hart grew up in Middletown, N.J., earned his BA degree in English from Boston College and his medical degree from Rutgers Medical School. He completed his residency at Thomas Jefferson Medical School and fulfilled his National Health Service Corps obligation in Watkinsville, Georgia. Hart and his wife Anne moved to Havertown in 1990 and have raised six children in this community.
An active participant in Haverford Township’s recreation programs, Hart is a member of the Friends of Haverford Trails and served, for years, as a soccer coach and a baseball coach in the community. He has also served on the boards of the Haverford Heat American Legion baseball program, Brookline Baseball and Softball League, and the Haverford Township Babe Ruth League. He was, for years, a soccer coach and a baseball coach, and he has served in the past on the boards of the Brookline Baseball and Softball League and the Haverford Township Babe Ruth League. He recently became a member of the Delaware County Master Gardener program having completed required studies through Penn State Cooperative Extension.
Ward 6 Commissioner: Larry Holmes
Larry Holmes was first elected 6th Ward Commissioner in 2005. In his five terms in office, he has drawn on his legal expertise in finance to focus on improving the township’s financial standing. As the chair of the board of commissioners’ Finance Committee for eight years, Holmes played a leadership role in restoring the township’s bond rating and securing the lowest-priced public financing arrangements in Haverford’s history. Consistent with his interest in professionalizing the delivery of township services, Holmes was a strong advocate for the construction of a combined township administration building and police department on one site. That bi-partisan effort resulted in the modern, efficient structure on Darby and Manoa, which we all use. Prior to his election to the Haverford Township Commission, Holmes served as bond counsel to the township.
Holmes was elected twice by the township’s commissioners to serve as Vice-President of the commission. In addition to chairing the Finance Committee and serving on the commissioners’ committee Holmes has both served on various township boards, including the Skatium Board and the Library Board. In his second term on the commission, Holmes was instrumental in drafting and then passing the township’s 2011 Human Relations Ordinance, barring discrimination in housing, commercial property, employment, and public accommodations based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, sex, or sexual orientation. Subsequently, he advocated for the creation of the township’s existing Human Relations Commission.
Holmes is a principal at Offit Kurman, a Philadelphia law firm, where he specializes in matters related to finance and insurance. After growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania, he went to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. for his BA degree and then moved close to Haverford to attend the Villanova School of Law. He and his wife Priscilla live in Ardmore where they raised their four children.
Ward 4 Commissioner: Judy Trombetta
Judy Trombetta ran for Democratic Committee in Ward 4, Precinct 2 in 2016, just one year after moving to Haverford Township. Already a seasoned participant in Pennsylvania politics, she knew well the importance of local government in advancing any progressive policy at every level of government. After earning her Master of Social Work degree – with a concentration in Community Organizing – Trumbetta became the Chief of Staff for two members of the Pittsburgh City Council. That positioned her to assist in a variety of legislative endeavors, including the creation of the Pittsburgh HIV/AIDS Commission, and to build support for the Pittsburgh Land Bank and the ban on Marcellus Shale drilling in Pittsburgh itself.
Her next job was with The Food Trust, an organization based in Philadelphia which is dedicated to getting healthy foods into underserved localities. Trombetta worked with community leaders and officials in eleven Pennsylvania cities to expand the Healthy Corner Store Initiative and bring good food to communities lacking any grocery store. Building on her civic experience, Trombetta became District Office Director and, later, Chief of Staff for Pennsylvania’s 17th Senatorial District which meant immersion in communities in Montgomery and Delaware counties. When working for the 17th District, Trombetta secured a $2.83 million grant to improve traffic conditions at the West Chester Pike and I-476 corridor.
When she spoke to the Haverford Democratic Party Committee, Trombetta noted that her years in public service have taught her a lot about “how government works – and doesn’t.” She has seen that strong communities embrace diversity, take advantage of opportunities for growth, and take initiative in improving services that, in turn, “improve the quality of life for all.” Trombetta will bring her background with state and local government to the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners, including her expertise in getting grants to fund local projects.
Trombetta grew up in suburban Philadelphia and earned a BA in Social Work at Temple University before entering the graduate social work program at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Ward 4 with her husband Brandon and their four-year-old son Ari.
Ward 2 Commissioner: Sheryl Forste-Grupp
Sheryl Forste-Grupp has decided to make a second run for Ward 2 commissioner in 2021 because she believes the moment has arrived in the township to make changes that will encourage a diversity of voices and transparency in policy-making.
She wants to be at the table when the township commission updates the Haverford Comprehensive Plan, partnering with those who seek to address climate and environmental issues. She wants to work with other commissioners on policies that anticipate future township needs, promote economic growth, and support programming which affirms inclusion and life-long learning. She will also seek opportunities to collaborate with the Haverford School Board and the Delaware County Council.
Having served on the Library Board in 2002-2009, when talk of a library renovation was just starting, Forste-Grupp wants to be on the township commission that leads the now-approved renovation of our popular, but outdated, library facility. When she spoke before the HT Democratic Committee, Forste-Grupp called the library the “vital nerve center” of the township, “where we all come together.” For that reason, she explained, it is time to expand the library’s space for different age groups and community gatherings. Her tenure on the Library Board involved revising the library’s bylaws and developing its strategic plan, so Forste-Grupp brings experience and knowledge to the library project. She often represented the Library Board before the Board of Commissioners.
Political conditions in Ward 2 are quite different in 2021 than in 2017, making this an opportune moment for a Democratic candidate. Today, Democrats hold the plurality of registrations in Ward 2, where Biden won by 62%. As well, Forste-Grupp’s opponent is not a well-known incumbent. Four years ago, Forste-Grupp was running against the Republican incumbent and Ward 2 voter registration was solidly Republican. In 2017, her strong, door-to-door campaign brought Forste-Grupp within 257 votes of winning. More remarkably, she raised the number of votes for a Democratic commissioner candidate in Ward 2 by 72% from four years earlier. She is optimistic about her chance of winning the ward seat this year.
Forste-Grupp currently serves on the Oakmont Farmers Market Board, working to bring local farm products to our tables. She serves on the Haverford Democrats’ Committee for Ward 2 and, as Haverford Dems’ elected vice-chair, she manages the Scholarship Committee, which recognizes two graduating seniors who have been outstanding leaders for the Democrats of Haverford High. Forste-Grupp teaches English at the Baldwin School and currently serves as the school’s Ninth Grade Dean.
In the decade between 1986 and 1996, Forste-Grupp earned a B.A. degree, a Master’s degree, and Ph.D. This academic speed testifies to her efficiency, tenacity, and talent. Since receiving her doctorate in Comparative Literature, she has dedicated her professional life to the classroom. A stint at Villanova University led to a decade at Episcopal Academy, where she chaired the English Department, followed by her current position of leadership at the Baldwin School.
She and her husband, Dr. Stephan Grupp, have lived in Haverford Township for 25 years and raised their three children here.
Forste-Grupp Facebook page. DONATE to Forste-Grupp’s campaign.