Penn Valley resident Daniel Bernheim joined the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners Wednesday night as Mark Taylor’s successor in the Ward 1 (Penn Valley, Gladwyne, Wynnewood and Merion Park) seat, after which Belmont Hills native Commissioner Paul McElhaney succeeded Taylor as board vice president.
All nine board Democrats voted for Bernheim, a Democrat, while Republican Commissioners Scott Zelov and Philip Rosenzweig voted for their fellow Republican Joseph Carapico, the other of the two . Republicans Jenny Brown and Lew Gould did not attend the meeting.
“I’ve taken a pledge here for the type of service that needs to be performed,” said Bernheim, a commercial attorney in Philadelphia. “My promise to you is that you will have my uncompromising integrity and tireless effort to try to raise that bar.”
The vote for and against McElhaney, the only person to accept a nomination for vice president, also fell along party lines.
“This is clearly a humbling moment for me,” said McElhaney. “I can only hope I won’t disappoint anyone.”
Cheryl Gelber nominated Bernheim but expressed disappointment that President Liz Rogan had not heeded civic associations’ requests to postpone the process to replace Taylor after his sudden .
Brian Gordon compared Bernheim’s eloquence to that of Daniel Webster and President Barack Obama: “There are few people I’ve met who actually speak in fully punctuated paragraphs.”
In response to Gordon invoking Obama, Zelov said, “I am confident that Mr. Bernheim will be more fiscally responsible than our president.”
Commissioner Jane Dellheim nominated McElhaney and mentioned his and other Democrats’ committee work, prompting Rosenzweig to accuse Dellheim of “rude and ugly partisanship” in overlooking board Republicans who worked just as hard. He called McElhaney “ill-suited” to the position and instead nominated Gelber, who declined, praising McElhaney.
He then nominated for vice president the newly seated Bernheim, who declined and chastised Rosenzweig for objecting to Dellheim's comments publicly, not privately.
“There are far too many important things for this board to do than to bicker like a bunch of children who can’t play well in the sandbox,” Bernheim said.
Replied Rosenzweig, “I respectfully suggest to you that when a statement is made in public, it must be addressed in public.”
Also Wednesday night:
- Don Cannon, the director of public works, updated residents on snowstorm-cleanup costs. Close to 75 percent of the department's annual overtime budget has been used, Cannon said.
- The board approved a host of items that included permitting the construction of a Taco Bell on City Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, a renovation to the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr and the installation of a stop sign at Greaves Lane and Righters Mill Road in Gladwyne.