Candidate for Chester County Coroner
Sophia Garcia-Jackson is currently working as the Chester County Chief Deputy Coroner and is running to move up to the Coroner position to be vacated by Christina VandePol. The Coroner is responsible for determining “the cause and manner of death” for all those who die in Chester County. Although roughly 80% of deaths are natural deaths, some 20% of “sudden and unexplained deaths” require further investigation, possibly including an autopsy, to determine cause of death. Since the Coroner deals with sensitive issues, the office must operate with the highest degree of compassion, professionalism, and integrity.
If elected, Sophia would continue the work of Christina VandePol in trying to improve the department. First, she feels it is crucial that Chester County have its own forensic facility instead of having to borrow space from Chester County Hospital or sometimes even from locations in Montgomery County and Allentown. As determined by a needs assessment conducted by the Chester County Commissioners, a dedicated forensic facility would save the county time and money and would be affordable for the richest county in the state. Second, Sophia feels strongly that the county needs an on-site forensic pathologist to perform autopsies. Currently all autopsies are outsourced to overworked outside pathologists, resulting in considerable extra costs and long wait times for grieving families. Third, she would like to improve department outreach at schools and community events to help residents understand just what the department does.
Sophia holds a master’s degree in Forensic Medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from California State with a certification in Forensic Identification. She is certified with the Pennsylvania Coroner’s Education Board, and the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, and is working on the next certification level called Fellowship.
Sophia first and foremost loves her career, but finds her creative outlet through cooking and baking. She has “way too many kitchen gadgets” and loves to take cooking classes at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. She met her husband Blake, who works in the Financial Service Software Industry, during college when they were both studying abroad in Ghana, West Africa.
Chester County Candidate for Controller
Margaret Reif is seeking reelection as Chester County Controller and hopes to continue to implement the reforms she started in her first term. She is proud to have moved the office from paper to automated processes for functions such as auditing, accounts payable, and payroll leading to significant cost savings for taxpayers This streamlining of operations was particularly important as staff was forced to work from home due to the Covid outbreak. If reelected, she hopes to see this long-range project through to completion.
Margaret has other plans for improving the office in the future. For example, she would like to expand on the list of 17 state mandated audits to include areas not audited before such as employee health insurance. She would also like her staff to do real-time auditing of programs such as the hospitality industry grants and emergency rental assistance given out during Covid. This would ensure these programs are managed efficiently and cost effectively from the start.
Margaret holds a degree in Economics and Finance from the University of Scranton. She was controller for a Malvern-based nonprofit, managed a family-owned business for over 25 years, and worked as an investment liaison at Vanguard.
Margaret is proud to call herself a political activist, working on such projects as the prevention of child sexual abuse and open space, and urges those who are unhappy with the status quo to run for office. She was galvanized by the Trump win in 2016 and the subsequent 2017 Women’s March to run for office despite slim odds. She counts herself among the many women who were energized to improve their communities and urges Democrats to take local elections more seriously.
Margaret and her husband Joe met in college and have been married for 29 years. Her 24 year old son Matthew works in marketing and is getting married next year and her 21 year old son Stephen is a senior at Penn State University studying biology.