Democrats historically gain control of Montgomery County

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Josh Shapiro was elected as the Chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners Tuesday afternoon.

He and fellow Democrat Leslie Richards are marking a first. When sworn in they became the first Democratic majority in the history the County Commissioners.

"As far as we know this is the first time since this form of government has been in place - which is about 150 years," said Marcel Groen, the Democratic Party Chairman.

The other remarkable element of the day - the warm words the two Democrats and one Republican had for one another.

"Today, starting right now, rancor and acrimony will yield to respect and accord," said Shapiro.

"On day one we have already taken steps to change the tone of county government," said Richards.

A feeling that was echoed again by Republican Bruce Castor.

"I think good things are going to happen. It's an exciting time," he said.

All the bipartisan goodwill is a stark contrast to the last four years of poisonous infighting.

When Jim Matthews split with fellow Republican Bruce Castor, Matthews aligning instead with Democrat Joe Hoffel.

Charges of waste and wrongdoing made headlines and last month Matthews was charged with lying to a grand jury.

On Tuesday Shapiro made it clear the county's finances and other problems must be dealt with in a civilized way.

"The challenges are too great to continue this infighting. We are going to lead by example and get the job done," he said.

Day one started with pledges of unity and promises from the three commissioners to work together for the common good of the county's 800,000 residents.

If that holds true, it indeed will be a new era.

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