In a passionate, heartfelt speech beneath dreary skies before a crowd of 40 at the steps of the Delaware County Courthouse, Lisa Esler explained, this morning, June 15, why she entered the race for the 161st District Pennsylvania House seat.
The seat is open because just-elected Republican incumbent Joe Hackett stepped down April 30 saying he wanted to return to law enforcement.
The Delaware County GOP to the puzzlement of many picked county AFL-CIO boss Paul Mullen as their candidate to replace him. Mullen had been a strident supporter of Democrats over the last several election cycles, even to the point of serving as a muscleman enforcer.
Mullen’s only foray into public service was a stint on the Penn Delco School Board in the mid-oughts, which, like Hackett, he quit soon after his appointment.
Mrs. Esler, an Aston resident, described herself as a wife, mother, grandmother, certified optician, and a member of the Penn Delco School Board.
And a Republican.
She said she is running to give the district’s voters a choice.
“I am challenging the Delco GOP’s candidate because in my role as a school board director, I have seen how Harrisburg is tainted by special interest lobbyists. As head of the AFL-CIO in Delaware County and the business manager for the IBEW, Mr. Mullen is the poster child for special interests,” she said. “Further, Mr. Mullen has supported liberal Democrats in the last two major election cycles — under his leadership, his union supported Barack Obama and Bob Casey; and Mr. Mullen personally supported Joe Sestak and John Kane. That the Delco GOP machine would favor a man who is, for all intents and purposes a Democrat, is a slap in the face to every Republican in Delaware County.”
She noted that Mullen was picked before the ostensible committee-person vetting process. While taking questions after her prepared statement, she said that a GOP Facebook post announced that Mullen was the candidate an hour before the official selection meeting started May 28.
Mrs. Esler will be running a write-in campaign which, with the new voting machines, is no longer tilting at windmills. The Democrat candidates for Delaware County Council got on the ballot this year via a write-in campaign and Scott Wagner won a write in campaign in a special election last year to take the 28th District State Senate seat.
The official Democrat in the race is Leanne Krueger-Braneky of Swarthmore who lost to Hackett last fall by 2,696 votes.
Mrs. Esler said the district needs someone who will fight for the taxpayers and that there are many cost saving measures that could be implemented without loss of services but are kept from doing so by the political class.
“I am not and do not intend to become a career politician,” she said, and specifically pledged not to take a pension.
She said people were needed to stand up to the lobbyists and the party machines and to work for the taxpayer.
“I will work for you and not be beholden to any special interest group, lobbyist or political party. I am in this race to win and hope the people of the 161st will give me the opportunity to go to Harrisburg and work for them,” she said.
The 161st District is the townships of Aston, Nether Providence, Ridley (PART, Wards 01 [PART, Division 03], 02 [PART, Divisions 01 and 03], 03, 05, 07 and 08) and Springfield (PART, Ward 03 [PART, Division 02 (HD161)]) and the boroughs of Brookhaven, Rose Valley, Rutledge and Swarthmore. Total population: 63,539