At right, Democratic candidate Vince Rongione speaks with Haverford Democratic Party chairperson Jack Stollsteimer during the grand opening of his campaign office. Rongione is seeking election as state representative for the 163rd Legislative District. (Special to the Times / LESLIE KROWCHENKO)
By Leslie Krowchenko, Times Correspondent
UPPER DARBY — Local party leaders, union representatives, friends and supporters filled the space Saturday morning for the grand opening of Democrat Vince Rongione’s campaign office.
Situated among storefronts in the 4000 block of Garrett Road, the spot will be the hub for the next few months as Rongione seeks election as state representative for the 163rd Legislative District. He and Republican Jamie Santora, a township councilman at large, are vying for the seat currently held by Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, who will be retiring after 36 years in the General Assembly.
The district includes Aldan borough, the Clifton Heights and Drexel Hill sections of Upper Darby Township as well as the first and ninth wards of Haverford Township. Reaching each of the more than 25,000 registered voters is challenging and it is hoped the physical presence will serve to encourage potential door knockers, phone callers, letter writers, office workers and donors.
“Just yesterday we got a new volunteer when a man came to the door and asked what he could do to help,” said campaign manager Will Sharry. “We need as many people as possible in this people-centered campaign.”
Although he is making his inaugural run, Rongione is familiar with the political process. He previously served as the deputy campaign manager of finance for former U.S. Rep. Joseph Sestak and worked under former state Rep. Bryan Lentz and former U.S. Rep. Chris Carney.
State representatives Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester, Margo Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby, and Greg Vitali, D-166, of Haverford, had planned to attend, but were unable due to ongoing discussions in Harrisburg about the state budget, said Rongione. John Kane, the Democrat running against Republican Tom McGarrigle for the 26th District seat currently held by state Sen. Edwin Erickson, was present for the festivities.
“You will help us get Democrats out to vote,” said Kane. “The best advertisement is by word of mouth.”
The office opening was just one stop on a day which included early morning meetings and an afternoon of canvassing. Rongione presented an abbreviated version of his stump speech, reminding those in the room of his commitment to expand the Medicaid program, freeze property taxes for seniors and prevent the privatization of state liquor stores, pension plans and the lottery.
“That is why we are knocking on doors,” said Rongione. “The people in this room – you are the committee, you are ‘votevincepa.’”