Get to know the woman elected to oversee this fine borough
SOME politicians feel they have better things to do than listen to the concerns of the people. That’s not the case with Mayor Carolyn Comitta. Whether it be helping a student with a questions about what doors a WCU criminal justice degree opens or promptly answering emails from a magazine in her borough, Mayor Comitta puts herself out there and tries to help. If you couldn’t guess, we’re the magazine who emailed her, and we were happy to hear of her enthusiasm to sit down and chat.
What makes West Chester special? I would say it’s the diversity of people in this town. We have retirees, university students, families and young professionals. And, the people in this town are extremely caring and capable.
Was there any added significance in your being elected the first female mayor? Let’s face it: I was elected in 2010. Had I been elected in 1810 or 1910, then yes it would have been a big deal, but we’re in the 21st century. It should no longer be about gender but about competence.
What is the mayor’s role? The mayor is the civilian oversight of the administration of the police department – not the day-to-day operations, but the administration, working with the chief to set policy. In borough council, the mayor doesn’t have a vote but does have a veto. The mayor can also break a tie in the event a council member abstains or is absent.
You’ve served nearly two years as mayor. What is your proudest accomplishment in that time? The mission of the police department reads, “… to protect and serve our diverse communities by forging collaborative relationships.” When I read that I knew I wanted to have this job. My proudest accomplishments have been in building those collaborative relationships.
What do you hope to accomplish in the second half of your term? Our goal for the coming year is to launch a TV channel called PEG, Public Education and Government. It’s a collaboration with the university that will be run from their communications department. The goal is to engage citizens through TV. We’re going to start with the education aspect – a student intern will cover council meetings.
Do you plan to seek re-election? It’s an honor and a joy to be mayor. If I believe I am still effective in bringing people together to improve things, then I will seek re-election. And if the voters agree, then they can re-elect me.
You’ve been a vice president and a CFO, a teacher and a curriculum specialist, a mother and a mayor. Am I missing anything? You didn’t mention my work with the United Nations. I’m on the executive board of the World Information Transfer, an NGO promoting awareness of environmental health.
Which of those jobs is most difficult? Mother. Everybody says that, right? It’s also the most important.
What’s something about West Chester people might not know but should? This past year both Forbes.com and Where To Retire magazine declared this town one of the best places to retire to. Also, although the borough is only 1.8 square miles it incorporates all this diveristy in that small area.
Do you think parking in West Chester is frustrating? Parking is a challenge in any popular, urban area. The mayor has no authority over parking, but I often get emails from people complaining, and if I get an email I respond.
Anything you’d like to tell our readers? I want to encourage everyone to come out to council meetings and to volunteer on our boards and commissions. We are only as good as the people who are involved.
P.S. You can also follow the mayor on Twitter. Yeah, she’s tech savvy like that.