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McKeown Beats Back Democrat Morein in Ward 7, But Otherwise in Cheltenham, Election Night Belongs to Democrats

The winning candidate with wife, Nancy

With party registration figures more than two to one against him, Charlie McKeown survived a tough battle against Democrat Heidi Morein to win his fifth straight term in Ward Seven Tuesday night, according to an unofficial vote count.

McKeown won with 772 votes to Morein’s 715 votes.  While Morein took two of the three precincts, 7-2 (Berachah Church) and 7-3 (Cheltenham Elementary), she couldn’t compensate for McKeown’s domination of his home precinct, 7-1 (Rowland Library), which he took by 165 votes.

It was a tense campaign, which included squabbling about misrepresentations on campaign literature throughout election day.  Democrats were optimistic that after Josh Kershenbaum lost to McKeown four years ago by some 165 votes, that this year, with a greater registration disparity in favor of the Democrats, combined with hard work, Morein could get over the top.  It was not to be.

Both candidates had the enthusiastic support of their families.  McKeown, with the help of his wife, Nancy, and their four boys and two girls, scoured the ward covering the polls and looking for votes. Morein had her husband, Jon, in her corner along with their two sons.

When the final numbers were reported, McKeown was delighted, but perhaps more relieved than anything else.  For at least another few moments, Charlie had that familiar smile working.  “It’s a great night!” he said.  Cheltenham’s newest five-term commissioner, and a Republican at that, dodged another bullet.

In other commissioner races, in Ward Three, Democrat Harvey Portner easily captured a seventh straight term, vanquishing his Republican opponent, Melanie Vallerio, by 58 percent.  In Ward Five, newcomer Democrat Dan Norris beat Republican first-timer Mark Sirinides overwhelmingly by 66 percent.  In Ward One, Republican Drew Sharkey ran unopposed.

School board races were won by Democrats across the board by wide margins of more than 2.5:1.  Democratic victors were, in order of their vote totals:  Julie Haywood of Wyncote; Mary Russell of Cheltenham; Jim Butt of  Cheltenham; Paula Barvin of Elkins Park; and Napleon Nelson of Wyncote.  All vote counts are subject to an official count starting on Friday at the Montgomery County Election Board.  Republican candidates were: Jim Custer; Myron Goldman; Rebecca Hollinger Johnson; and Loren Vallerio.


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  1. Robert Hyslop

    Heidi Morein, you are getting in deeper. Some of us are actually paying attention, though. I am starting to know you, by your own words. After citing your expertise in communications, and claiming that all your information is factual and verifiable, and scolding others for being careless what they put into print, the specific example that you picked was wrong (that all commissioners were present at the 10/6 flood meeting except Mr. McKeown was completely false, not even close to the truth).

    According to your earlier claim, maybe you should have had your attorney vet the information you got from the nameless “elected official who took the time to travel across the state” (paid 20 to 30 times that of a commissioner? part of his job to represent Cheltenham?), or to vet your misunderstanding of that communication, so that you would admit which account is correct. There were more people than chairs in the room that night (at least 200), so you really are not going to cling to a single convenient miscommunication rather than verify the truth? Remember “verifiable”?

    Then, someone calls attention to the fact that another commissioner actually did exactly what you accused, the only commissioner missing at the critical 11/30 DEP meeting, yet it was not upsetting enough for you to scold that commissioner or even to acknowledge it as true? Again, there were enough witnesses on 11/30, even if you were missing. Well, it is hurtful to residents from Glenside through Elkins Park, severely impacted by flooding and sewer overflows, for years, some for decades, many of whom have not had much or even any participation from their own commissioner during 3 months of meetings, and years of severe conditions.

    You also said that many of my neighbors know you? Because you “showed up and fielded the issues at every available forum”? Not 9/14 public works. Not 9/21 Brookdale pumping station. Not 9/26 Glenside Hall, or any of the citizen meetings before, during, and after DEP on 10/6. Same for DEP on 11/30. Unless you failed to identify yourself, while “fielding issues”? “Every available forum”? My neighbors and the residents from 4 or 5 of the 7 wards were at all of these meetings, none of whom has even mentioned your name in your absence.

  2. Heidi Morein

    PPS Yes, Virginia – that was fake Latin. I know the difference on that, too.

  3. Heidi Morein

    PS Charlie is paid to attend meetings; for me it is strictly voluntary – or did you not know that Commissioners get a stipend of $6,000 per annum per every hominem and femininam in office, plus full family health care benefits ?

  4. Jimmy Mulholland

    Where were you a@ the township commissioners’ meeting @ Curtis Hall on Wednesday evening on 30 Nov.?
    So, you didn’t win the election and now you don’t care?

    Again, I have been a resident of this township for over 30 years and I am a registered independent.

    The only commissioner not in attendance was Democrat Harvey Portner. What was that that you were telling me in my last writing about blind loyalties? Your criticism of Charlie McKeown’s spelling is purely the red herring of an ad hominem attack. Here, you demonstrate a profound lack of professionalism by not separating the issue from the person/personality. Indeed, a careful examination of much of your commentary will further demonstrate this….and you teach communications? Perhaps is works sometimes. This characteristic of yours and Charlies’ knowledge of township needs explains why you won in your own back yard of ward 7-2 by a mere nine (9) votes.

    Personally, as a political independent, I also point out that Democrats have been in control of the township for the past 15 years not to mention the school board’s near perpetuity. Your socialist democrat cronies are destroying our property values and systematically fulfilling Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto dictum to destroy all private ownership. Look at the township Democrat history and look at the school board, also. Heidi, we old timers in this community do our research. You Democrat Socialists have destroyed our property values.
    You Democrat Socialists have destroyed our schools. When the Republicans controlled the township, taxes were profoundly lower. When the Republicans controlled the school board, Cheltenham was number one (#1) in PA. Now, the school district is #121 in the State…AND DON’T GIVE ME THAT RUBBISH ABOUT THE CHANGE IN DEMOGRAPHICS! NO AMOUNT OF CHANGE CAN ACCOUNT FOR SUCH A RAPID AND PROFOUND DROP AS THAT!!!

    Way to go Democrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have yet to see or hear you criticize ANY Democrat. I have yet to hear you criticize the gross disparity of per capita State appropriated monies which Larry Curry gets for Jenkintown while my neighbors in Glenside are inundated with sewage. I have yet to see you criticize any Democrat for high township taxes and high school taxes when Democrats have controlled all of this for an interminably long time.

    Now, what was that about which you were lecturing me in a previous op ed about blind loyalties?
    By all means, please favor me with more statements of how I’ve misquoted and “misrepresented” you. Your ad hominem drivel is entertaining.

    I also have one other question for you Heidi: If your statements are such paragons of virtuous honesty, why then, do you need to retain the services of an attorney to vet your statements for the lowly position of township commissioner?

    • Jimmy Mulholland

      I forgot to add that I’m changing my registration from Independent to Republican.

      • Jimmy Mulholland

        If the tone of the above seems to be unkind, I do apologize. However, Heidi, your ad hominem attacks are inexcusable for someone seeking public office.

        • Heidi Morein

          Wow. You certainly do need to meet me. It’s probably the best way to get an apology from you. This site seems to act on you like road rage, without the car.

  5. Robert Hyslop

    Heidi Morein, I do not know you. However, I am a Glenside resident who has been documenting flooding and sanitary sewer overflows into homes for 16 years. Although no commissioner has been nearly as effective as I would like, Commissioner McKeown has been on the right side of flooding issues more often than others, past and present. Unfortunately, it takes 4 commissioners to take control. After your 11/16 claims that others were careless to put into print false assertions or information about you, I was surprised that you did the same, in the same breath. The “critical flood meeting held and attended by all commissioners with the exception of Charlie” with your “partial list” of attendees was held on 10/6/11. However, the complete list of commissioners present on 10/6 contains only Art Haywood, Drew Sharkey, and Mickey Simon. Furthermore, except for 10/6, only the first two have met to address flooding with residents from Glenside through Elkins Park regularly since September, or perhaps at all.

    • Heidi Morein

      No, you do not know me; but many of your neighbors do, because I showed up and fielded the issues and heard the concerns at every available forum. I was called that evening by an elected official who took the time to come across the state to be there and who gave me a different account – and count – from yours. However, it is still the case that Charlie was not there and that it was asserted on his behalf that he was. What does it take to be right on the flooding issue? (Is he for it, or against it? Seems like an easy stance to take, unless you have an ark you’d like to sell.)
      But it should take more than a stance or saying the right things when you are entrusted with 16 years of a position of power, where you actually, materially affect the lives in an entire ward – not just your buddies, an entire ward, of increasing diversity and need.
      What do you think it was like to be David Flaks or Josh Kershenbaum (or Ben Ginsburg, whom Charlie McKeown confuses with Josh Kershenbaum) and be strafed by the vitriolic attack (albeit poorly composed and un-spell-checked) two days post election? They heard as did we all – because we show up – the different tune he sang pre-election. Not exactly a confidence-booster, is it?

  6. Kat

    Congratulations Charlie! We are happy to have you representing us for another term!

  7. Jimmy Mulholland

    I’ve been a resident of Cheltenham since 1979. I watched the commissioner’s race in ward seven with keen interest as it is an anomaly in Cheltenham township. I must state immediately that I am registered as an Independent. One has to wonder how this Republican can win in a ward where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2.5 to 1.
    Charlie McKeown is a fourth generation resident. To say that people know him and his lovely family in this township would be quite an understatement. Charlie’s opponent, Heidi Morein, moved into Rowland Park in 2006 or there abouts and is a comparative come lately. Heidi’s strength was her appeal to new residents of Cheltenham who don’t know Commissioner McKeown. As such, she could make statements which would not be tested based on the lack of knowledge of new voters. Shortly before voting day, Heidi and the Democrat political machine published a six point flyer under the title: “Where’s Charlie?” In this digital age, one must be careful not to make statements which cannot be supported. Of the six points which Heidi and the Democrats made, one point was true: Charlie did not attend the meeting of the League of Women Voters. Fair enough.

    However, the other five points did not survive scrutiny.
    -There was no Commissioners’ flood meeting. The Democrat party and it’s mouthpiece Heidi seemingly made a lie of commission.
    -There was a block party in Glenside to raise money for the Brookdale Road flood victims. This did not pertain to Ward Seven (7). Heidi and the Democrats
    seem to have lied by omission. Heidi and party: Do you swear to tell the whole truth? Apparently not.
    -The commissioners are not permitted to attend zoning board meetings. In all probability, Heidi was ignorant of this fact. However, the Democrat party certainly knew this.
    -Charlie has, in fact, been working with Kerlin Farms for the past six (6) years and has attended all meetings pertaining to it. This, of course, appears to have been a flagrant lie of commission by Heidi and the Democrats.

    Heidi was known to have said, in sum: “I will lower taxes in Cheltenham.” To long time residents, this statement seemed to be, at best, a statement of incompetence. If Heidi had said: “I will try to lower taxes in Cheltenham,” it would have been believable. At worst, it appeared to some voters that Heidi’s statement was sheer hubris…on steroids.

    It must be emphasized that Heidi and the Democrats gave the appearance of lying because of the vitriol.

    Commissioner McKeown has never run a negative campaign choosing, instead, to honor his opponents as opposed to being disrespectful to them. For those who know Commissioner McKeown, Charlie exhibits time honored old fashion virtues and not transient values. Long time residents of Cheltenham know this man and that he is utterly accessible to everyone regardless of party affiliation.

    Long time residents of Cheltenham know that party affiliation at the commissioner’s level is meaningless. Charlie often jokes about being a “Republicrat…I represent everyone,” he says. In fact, long time residents of Cheltenham will tell you: “Charlie would still be available to all of his neighbors even if he were not the Ward Seven commissioner. He and his entire family are among the rarest of people with hearts for community service.”
    Jimmy Mulholland
    Ward 7, Cheltenham, PA

    • Heidi Morein

      I need to point out, first, that as a professor of communications whose courseload has included communications law and policy, I am aware of both my freedoms and my constraints. All information given by or under my campaign was and is factual, verifiable, and vetted by an attorney. So you are completely mistaken.
      And careless to put in print that I or my campaign peddled false assertions or information.
      In fact, it’s ironic is that neither you nor, which is worse, Charlie, seem to have a grasp of basic American freedoms and constraints. Loyalty is commendable, but you are blinded by it.
      I resent being misrepresented in your comments and have neither the energy nor desire to go point by point, but you are misrepresenting me, quoting me on taxes when that quote is without source – in fact, you made it up.
      You only have to go on my website to get an accurate quote on my stand on taxes and services.
      But hey, why do research when you can just operate a verbal slingshot?
      Most glaring of your claims – and it’s hard to pick one, but I want to get on with my day – is your refutation of Charlie’s absences from key meetings and events: all of which were public, and all verifiable.
      I guess the critical flood meeting held and attended by all of the commissioners with the exception of Charlie was a figment of collective imagination! Here is a partial list of who was there:
      Rep Larry Curry
      Rep Chaka Fatah
      and The Army Corps of Engineers

      • Sara

        Thank you Heidi for a great response. 54 votes is really not much…but it overwhelmingly shows people need a change and want it. They (including myself) are sick of the same old same old…time for new voice, new experiences, new outlook and new ideas. Unfortunately lies, intimidation seems to work for the majority and scare tactics of Republican vs. Democrat. Party does not make a difference for a commissioner at this level. Term limits.

  8. Joseph Hannings

    I have many personal experiences with Charlie. He talks a good game (to the general, in the dark, public), but has never come through with anything he has said. Any “great achievements” he claims are a result of his hars work are just smoke and mirrors. Truth be told, he does not have much say in anything that he takes credit for. The tookany projects and roadwork? Of course he took credit for them because they’re in that ward. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the township, county, and state stepping in to fix Cheltenhams deteriorating infrastructure. The police department and their new uniforms or community policing unit (that i recently read he took credit for); disgrace. The list goes on and on folks. When it comes to recurring fatalities on tookany pkwy, can we get street lights or guard rails installed? No, thats just nonsense talk. The giant black pooh pipe snaking its way through the twp and the tens of millions its going to cost to repair, I’m sure that problem is the first Charlie heard of it during the past 16 years. I could write for days about the lies he pawns off as results of his ‘hard work’, let alone the townships problems, but i’ll leave it at that. Did he win because of ‘hard work’? Or did he win because the general public simply doesnt know any better and voted because theyre friends with him or completely in the dark, as previously stated.. Just my two cents.

  9. Josh Kershenbaum

    We in Cheltenham owe Heidi Morein a debt of gratitude for fighting the good fight on our behalf. Unofficial results suggest that she lost to her opponent by a mere 57 votes, making her the most successful Democratic opponent to this 16 year incumbent Republican ever. I know firsthand how hard it is to run for this seat and to come up just short in the end. The important thing is that Heidi worked extremely hard for all of us, at great personal sacrifice, to make this incumbent work as hard as possible to keep his seat and to show him that he must not take this privilege of service for granted. Thank you Heidi!

    • Commissioner Charkie McKeown Sr.

      I appreciate compitition as I have been competing all of my life. I was very athletic, and had my fair share of injuries, a broken hip, to a major stroke several years ago where my family was told if I lived, I would be a vegetable. Well miracles cease to happen. Aftter several years of re-hab after a stay in U of P Hospital, and several weeks at Moss Rehab, I continued my my work as a Commissioner with a lot of help from the Township. It took me several years to be able to read outloud, and write, only to continue winning elections due to the determination I was born with.
      Yes, I am used to being the underdog, but determination leads to success. The Democratic Party had tried to rum me out, but the determination that was instilled in me many years ago, is still with me !!!
      Heidi put up a good race. I have not heard from Heidi as of now, but I wish her the best of lock in the future !!!!

  10. Sara

    Still don’t understand why Cheltenham doesn’t have term limits.