As a 1st-year regular division law student
on Widener Law’s Delaware campus, Josh Maxwell seems pretty typical, at least until you ask about his other job. Maxwell recently became the youngest Mayor in the history of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, defeating fellow 26-year old candidate Nick Winkler in November for the position. Having recently begun his term as the Mayor of the roughly 8,500 to 9,000 people who call the borough of Downingtown home, Mayor Maxwell is looking forward to the job.
“ I wanted to see the town more actively pursue commercial development,” says Maxwell of his decision to run for Mayor, adding, “People on the planning commission really liked my ideas, and eventually they asked me to run.”
A graduate of West Chester University, Maxwell studied political science as an undergraduate, concentrating on public policy. As native of Downingtown, Maxwell was active in the community, serving as a Church Deacon, participating in community service projects, and serving on the town’s planning commission. That background, combined with his education, made him confident that he could serve as the town’s mayor.
Maxwell feels that the legal education he is receiving will be beneficial in his role as Mayor. “I feel that having a law degree will help me be a very effective public servant,” he says, adding, “There’s a human side to political office that is overwhelmingly important. Voters want a candidate who will do the right thing regardless of the pressure, and that kind of objectivity is professed in law school.”
Discussing his plans for the borough, Maxwell says, “We are immediately looking at development projects and improvements in borough communications.” The first Mayor to have a listed email address on the borough website, he plans to make assertive use of the myriad communication options now available, including social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. As to development issues, he says, “We will be aggressively marketing new train station development, a new library, a new senior center, a state-of-the art skate park, and capital improvements to our business district.”
Primary decision-making power in the borough of Downingtown resists largely with the six-member Borough Council that enacts ordinances, but the Mayor does oversee the Police Department and has the power to cast the deciding vote if the Council is deadlocked. Despite the limited monetary compensation of serving as Downingtown’s Mayor, Josh seems to relish his role as the town’s Ambassador. “It’s really enjoyable to be the ceremonial face of the town,” says Maxwell of the events he is asked to attend, which include occasions such as speaking to high school students, attending police or firefighter functions and benefits, or even marrying people. He confesses that since he has only been Mayor a short time, he is not entirely certain of what’s to come, but he seems up for the challenge.
Despite his electoral success, Maxwell is non-committal about a future in politics, saying only that after completing his legal education, he will “work hard and see what opportunities are presented.”