Before the vote was taken on two nominations for Lansdale Council president Monday night, nominee and registered Independent Jason Van Dame expressed his feelings on why nominee Jack Hansen was the bad choice to lead Lansdale.
In the end, Hansen would receive a 5-4 vote in favor of the presidency, but not before Van Dame laid some things on the table of his issues with Hansen's political character. Namely, Van Dame attacked Hansen for his alleged pay-to-play politics and his potential run for another shot at the State House.
While Hansen denied any pay-for-play politics, he would later attempt to nominate many top contributors to his campaign and the Friends of Lansdale PAC for prominent positions on borough staff.
Van Dame told the packed meeting room that votes for president are usually lined up ahead of time, where everyone throws his or her support behind a candidate and vote at the reorganization meeting.
"I cannot do that this time," Van Dame said. "I don't feel Jack is the best choice to be council president."
Van Dame said he had been approached during his campaign under a year ago by Republicans and Democrats alike who urged him to reaffiliate himself with a party to help him win a seat on council.
"I found parties wanted to have some kind of influence," he said. "Despite being approached by candidates on either side, it was not worth the loss in what I had to give up in what I believe."
He said that, despite what some thought his success would be, here he sits on council.
"There is no one that I have to go back and please, except for the residents of Lansdale, the people each of us here are sworn to represent to the best of our ability," Van Dame said.
Van Dame said it is a fallacy to believe the council president cannot do anything without five votes. A president, he said, must represent council out in public and the way council does business.
"As such, I think it's important to start off on the right foot. The president ... sets the tone for how we present ourselves. They lay out committees and how they function and interact together," he said. "(The president) makes important appointments. In my opinion, it's something we need to do more of as a body."
Van Dame criticized Hansen for coming to the meeting with an agenda of potential appointments already prepared, without time for other council members to investigate the motions.
"Frankly, I'm taken back today with these motions that are a page-and-a-half long," he said, "with the idea to vote on these things tonight."
Van Dame said Lansdale needs professionals that are the best ones for the borough. The best way to do that, he said, is a formal Request for Proposals process.
"We are all elected to be leaders and set a good example and make the best choices," he said. "A leader brings up tough issues, not gloss things over because it is politically correct to avoid certain situations."
He said a leader does not drop a list of motions to set Lansdale up for failure.
"There may have been a time where he proceeded as both council president and councilman and it would have been OK, but we live in a day and age where we need to be open and honest," Van Dame said. "What will it be like when our kids are sitting here? How can we set an example for them that we can run this body openly and honestly?"
"We are not here to represent our own agendas, or party leaders' agendas," he said. "We are not here to represent special interests that fund our parties. That's one of the things I feel strongly about."