Did you hear the one about the reluctant Republican who became a dedicated Democrat? No, it’s not a joke; there’s no punch line.  Surprisingly, such changes are not infrequent in the Kennett Area. Dr. Colin Johnstone, one such dedicated Democrat, has an interesting conversion story.

Dr. Johnstone, a retired University of Pennsylvania veterinarian, was, in the 80s and early 90s, a Republican committee person for Pennsbury North 1 and a liaison to the Republican Party from Chester County.  When Bill Scranton, Jr., ran for governor in 1986, he worked on the Scranton team.  In short, Colin was a reliable Republican party member.

However, in 1992, he noticed that the tenor of the campaigns was starting to change.  Specifically, the race for the House of Representatives became ugly and combative; the Republican Party was starting to become an entity he did not recognize, and not one that he believed deserved his loyalty. Fierce battles were being waged between Republican moderates and conservatives, and the right-wing of the party managed to gain the upper hand. Colin resigned. For several years, he became a RINO (Republican in name only).

Though disillusioned with politics, Colin continued to work for the greater good. Through the Episcopal Church, Colin became involved with coordinating a mission ministry in Tanzania. So far, this initiative has been responsible for building a health center, a nursery school and kindergarten, and has led to efforts to improve water conservation. Further, over the years, he has made eight trips to Tanzania in support of a foundation that seeks to elevate the importance of women in the Episcopal Church internationally.

After retiring from the University of Pennsylvania, Colin moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, where he lived for 15 years and became a registered Democrat. In late 2015, he returned to Pennsylvania, back to his old precinct of Pennsbury North 1. This time, he sees an area with very welcome changes. PN1 is now 54% Democratic, and he is again a committee person, but this time as a Democrat. Colin sees an opportunity to grow Democratic voter participation throughout the Kennett Area and Chester County. “ Democrats have to recognize the importance of off-year elections and take them as seriously as we do the general elections,” he posits.

So, conversion stories are no joke; they are real. Let us know if you have a conversion story to share.

Reporting, Brenda Mercomes