Tuesday’s Chester City Council election results now have now been certified, and the council will have four new members. Also, with council seats changing hands, the city of Chester has made an historic change; all nine members of the council are Black.
Councilwoman Angela Douglas, who will leave the council after Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony, said there has never been an all-Black city council in Chester, which census data shows is 63.8% Black or African American.
The council includes the eight council members, made up of two representatives from each of the city’s four wards, plus city of Chester Mayor Wanda Stringfellow. There also is City Supervisor Stephanie Jackson, who facilitates the council meetings.
Chester did not have Black council members before 1987, Douglas said. In 1992, Raymond Douglas, Angela Douglas’s father, became the town’s first Black department head. The city elected its first Black mayor, Christopher King, in 1997.
The new council members
In the May 4 election, seats were open in all four wards.
An “unexpired” term was open in Ward 1 as Councilman William “Budda” Killian was elected to the Chester County Council in November. That left two open seats in Ward 1. One seat was open respectively in Wards 2, 3, and 4.
After the election commission counted 16 contested ballots, the official results of the election are as follows:
The unexpired Ward 1 seat will be filled by Wade A. Young;
The second Ward 1 seat will be taken by Tabatha M. Strother;
The Ward 2 seat will be filled by Dana Peay;
The Ward 3 seat will go to Danielle Hughes;
The Ward 4 seat will remain with incumbent Robbie King-Boyd.
The new council members were to be sworn in Thursday night. The ceremony was live-streamed to the city of Chester’s Facebook page.
Young, Strother, Peay, Hughes and King-Boyd will serve alongside Councilwoman TaTanish Campbell, Councilwoman Annie Reid and Councilman Carlos Williams.
Election results challenged
The Chester County Elections Commission met Thursday morning to certify Tuesday’s election results.
Ward 3 candidate Ken Lebbon had challenged 16 absentee ballots, but withdrew his challenge at the beginning of the meeting.
Lebbon said he questioned whether the electors actually lived in the city of Chester — voters must live within city limits to participate in city council elections. “The County Board of Elections has made it clear... that they have no responsibility to qualify electors, and electors will not be summoned to provide proof,” he said in his statement. “I rescind the 16 elector challenges because any further discussion at this point is moot.”
This allowed the board to open and count the ballots. Because the race in Ward 4 came down to five votes, and the race in Ward 1 came down to four votes, counting the 16 ballots could have changed the election results.
However, after counting the ballots, it was determined that the results of Tuesdays election would stand.
Also at the certification meeting, King-Boyd brought forward a complaint that Ward 2 Councilwoman-elect Dana Peay had used a North Carolina driver’s license to vote in the election.
Peay told The Herald she had recently moved from North Carolina and had misplaced her South Carolina license. She had used the South Carolina license to register for her candidacy.
King-Boyd argued that Peay could not hold a license in both states. “She should not have been allowed to be a candidate,” she told the board.
The board did not call Peay’s candidacy into question, but debated on the validity of Peay’s ballot. The board took evidence of residency from Peay, including water and utility bills, as well as a voter registration card.
After going into executive session to receive legal advice, Elections Commission Chairman Bill Marion announced that Peay’s ballot would be counted.