Running as a Democrat
Lillian DeBaptiste is a second-generation resident of West Chester. She graduated from both Henderson High School and West Chester University. Lillian went on to run her family’s long-successful business in the Borough and opened up a second West Chester business in 2008. She is a community organizer who has served on the Chester County Community Foundation, the Charles A. Melton Arts & Education Center, and Planned Parenthood. She intends to bring a renewed sense of collaboration and unity back to West Chester- to champion the town & all its people with her leadership.
1. Do you think our main street/downtown is healthy and successful? If not, what would you do to change that?
West Chester’s main street/downtown is healthy because our community was engaged in supporting our small businesses throughout this pandemic. The vast majority of our businesses have survived because they have done a great job of pivoting their business
models to adapt. I intend on working with Representative Herrin and Senator Comitta to redesignate Gay St. and Chestnut St. so that we can keep Gay St. closed for years to come from Thursdays through Sundays.
2. How would you rate the borough’s support of small businesses? What else can be done to help promote our locally owned small businesses?
The BID needs consistent support from Borough Council. It would benefit the BID and West Chester to increase the BID’s advertising budget to draw more business to our town.
Additionally, new events need to be created to initiate vibrant, exciting, and diverse activities to draw people into our town.
3. How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? If not, what will you do to increase those?
We support the railroad as a long-term plan, but we need more public transportation routes now including more routes to Exton and Paoli stations. We also need to increase public awareness of available routes and public transportation options so that public transportation is a logical choice for residents and visitors. I will also work in the private and public sector to increase the number of routes. This will also help cut down on car traffic in the borough.
4. One topic that is always of concern to small businesses is parking. Do you think the borough has challenges with parking? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?
The parking challenges need to be re-addressed. This is a controversial issue and it’s a multi-layered issue that needs to be revisited since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
5. If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?
Encourage new developments to build higher and increase density to promote the landscape referendum as endorsed by the county. Making sure all new and renovated buildings in the Borough are LEED-certified should be a priority.
6. How do you plan to involve small business owners in the decision-making process in our town?
I will add a virtual quarterly meeting for Borough Council with business owners to increase communication.
7. If someone came to you with a proposal to build a new piece of public infrastructure in our city (road, bridge, etc.) how would you evaluate whether that project was worth implementing?
West Chester is an old town. Much of its infrastructure is deteriorating, in disrepair and needs replacement. Each incident needs to be reviewed on its merit and immediacy.
8. If elected, what three steps would you take to put our borough on a firmer financial footing?
I would reevaluate and restructure the finances of the parking situation in the borough. I would also like to increase the cost of the extra trash bags provided by the Borough for residents that go over the limit of two cans and make them more accessible. I am also
interested in hiring an outside auditor to come in and take a look at our finances to confirm where we are spending money and where we can cut costs.
9. If you received a $1 million grant to use for the borough any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?
Two of my wishes are to repave and beautify the town with a specific focus on extending and making Market Street as beautiful as Gay Street and tearing down John O’Green park, remediating the land and building a true green space.
10. What would be your expectation and commitment regarding engagement and communication with the BID, through its Board and/or members?
I will make sure that I am in regular communication with the BID, board, and members by having regularly scheduled calls and spending time in our local businesses.
11. How might we work together to help optimize the BID as a municipal authority of the Borough, such as through grant opportunities, strategic planning and goal development, initiative prioritization?
I would encourage the BID to work toward diversifying their board and members through recruitment so that it is more representative of the retail and restaurant communities. This will help the BID develop more innovative ideas and strategies.
12. How can businesses and the police department work together to help control “nuisance” issues in the downtown? How can business owners assist the borough in keeping West Chester as a safe environment?
We need to implement a system for enforcement of the noise ordinance.