In a small corner of southeastern Pennsylvania sits House District 163.
HD-163 includes the Delaware County municipalities of Aldan, Clifton Heights, Collingdale, and parts of Darby and Upper Darby Townships.
There are a little more than 43,000 voters in the District and it will be up to them to determine if Democrats continue to hold the majority in the Pennsylvania House.
No disrespect intended to HD-108, where Mike Stender (R), Trevor Finn (D) and Elijah Scretchling (L) will square off in another special election on May 16, but that seat has been comfortably in GOP hands since 1972.
HD-163 is a different story.
Mike Zabel became the first Democrat to win the District since 1979 with his 2018 victory, defeating incumbent Jamie Santora, 53%-47%. He increased his vote total to 60.3 percent in 2020 and 64.8% last November in winning reelection.
Following allegations of sexual harassment, he resigned his seat in March. Republicans now see an opportunity to flip their 102-101 minority in the other direction.
The GOP is turning to Katie Ford to win back the 163rd but also the majority, while Democrats put forward Heather Boyd. Alfe Goodwin is also a candidate in the race, representing the Libertarian Party.
Ford is a lifelong resident of Upper Darby Township. She joined the Army Reserves after graduation from high school and received military training as a combat medic. A bachelors’ recipient from Penn State and holding a masters’ degree from Arizona State University, Ford has served as a behavioral therapist and works with children with developmental delays.
Her priorities include adequate funding for education and for police and police training.
“Given the numerous scandals in our local community related to our elected officials — ranging from a mayor who has mismanaged taxpayer dollars and was arrested to a state representative who resigned following accusations of sexual harassment — I will work to restore integrity in our state and local government,” Ford said in a statement.
Ford has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber PAC and the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) PA PAC.
Boyd, a resident of Drexel Hill, has worked as Chief of Staff to Rep. Leanne Krueger (D-) and as District Director and Senior Advisor for Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-05). A former member of the Upper Darby School Board, she says she will fight for laws and budgets that serve the district and will be an advocate for every resident who seeks services from the state of Pennsylvania.
“As a former teacher and local mom, I am running to make sure that every person and family in our district gets the resources and representation they deserve,” said Boyd. “I will work tirelessly to make sure residents of the 163rd district have a seat at the table in Harrisburg.”
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Goodwin, a resident of Upper Darby, has worked as a police officer, army chaplain and ordained minister. An Army veteran, she received a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison State University in 2006 and a graduate degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in 2010. Goodwin received just 1.6% of the vote in the 2022 general election that was won by Zabel.
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Democrats outnumber Republicans among registered voters with a 52.8 percent plurality, while the GOP has 34.2 percent of the 43,185 signed up to vote in the May 16 special election.