Christopher Sivel is possibly the youngest person to run for the office of Whitemarsh Township Supervisor. The senior — a double major in political science and corporate communications with a minor in global affairs — was searching for an internship last spring when he happened to meet Ed Flocco, also running for the post. Sivel joined the campaign as an intern and managed its social media, and made door hangers and lawn signs.
“The communications major requires an internship, but I want to get into a political career, so I found a political internship with strong communication aspects, and my advisors approved it,” says Sivel. “It turned out to be an interesting experience.”
Throughout the summer, Flocco’s original running mate dropped out, and Sivel’s name was mentioned as a replacement. He was endorsed, and the run began.
“It was nerve wracking in the beginning,” Sivel says with a laugh. “I went from an intern to a candidate in three months.”
The 5-member board has two seats open with two, two-man teams running for them. If elected, Sivel would join the board as it discusses and approves township news and events, development projects and budgets.
Sivel is one of those students who likes to stay busy. Along with fellow CHC seniors and high school friends, Clayton Allen and Andrew Conboy, he works on CHC-TV with Allen (as an anchor and reporter) and on CHC’s Garden Club with Conboy.
This semester, Sivel brought a chapter of Philadelphia Young Republicans to campus. He will act as an advisor to the group, which will hold its first meeting soon.
And he also is doing a departmental honors project on federal gun regulations with Jacqueline C. Reich, Ph.D., associate professor of political science.
“Clearly, Chris is a person who likes to challenge himself and who is interested in having an impact on the world,” says Reich. “We in political science are very proud of him.”
Sivel and Flocco are running on a three-part platform: stop over-development and preserve open space in the township; ease traffic issues and reduce spending and debt.
Sivel, who chose CHC in part because he is a legacy student — his mother and several aunts are alumnae and his grandfather, Walter Zenner, taught there, says he would like to pursue a political career after graduation.
“I liked being behind the scenes, running the campaign’s operations,” he says. “Maybe I’ll get involved in other races and move up the line. Or maybe I’ll run for higher office myself.”
— Brenda Lange
Reflections from Chris the day after the election:
Although it was freezing when I opened my poll at Whitemarsh Elementary School, we had a good turnout from 8 a.m. to noon. My mom was one of two poll workers who came to relieve me. (She did a great job.) Throughout the day, I traveled to and from class and the polls and greeted voters across the township. Around 4 p.m., I rallied three student volunteers who campaigned at a few polls for me. They did a great job too.
When the local committee, volunteers, family and friends gathered at Brittinghams after the polls closed, the results were not what we expected. Both Ed and I had lost, with my total vote count coming in at 1,420, or about 16.51 percent of the vote (between four candidates). 32 percent of registered voters voted, which isn't bad in an off-year election.
Personally, it's never fun to lose, but if anyone had told me six months ago when I was an intern that I would be a candidate in the general election, I would have called them nuts. That being said, I also don't know 1,420 people throughout my township and I think it's really humbling that that many people who don't know me personally went to the polls and put their trust in me. I was the youngest guy in the local committee and jumped into the race only three months before the general election. Everyone was proud of me and that's all I can really ask for — that I gave it my all and didn't hold back. It also was amazing to see everyone from the studio, my friends and my girlfriend who showed up to support me. Finally, my parents were there and extremely proud of what I had accomplished, despite the loss.