Published On: Thu, Oct 31st, 2013

Claire Shaw: Unplugged

Incumbent Councilperson Claire Shaw (Photo: Charlie Sahner)

Incumbent Council President Claire Shaw (Photo: Charlie Sahner)

Claire E. Shaw is one of four Republican candidates running for New Hope Borough Council in next week’s election. An incumbent and president of Council, Shaw wields Roger’s Rules resolutely in her pursuit of order. But is there another side some may have missed?

She lives on the towpath with her partner Michelle in a home where once dwelled the original Odette, along with two dogs, and two cats. Hobbies include photography, gardening and home improvement.

She has a Doctorate Degree from Temple University School of Dentistry, and is a Board Certified Periodontist. Shaw’s interest in pursuing the professional life did not come early in life.

“I went back to dental school when I was 33,” she said. “Prior to that, I managed night clubs, sold cars, raced motorcycles, tended bar, opened a disco in Atlantic City…I’ve got a lot of street knowledge behind me.” (Memo to self: close jaw)

“But when I became 33, I thought it was time to do something. So, I went back to dental school, and I started practice at 40. My colleagues are retiring, and I’m just getting started,” she joked.

So, what spurred the dramatic change? “I was with a partner who believed in education,” replied Shaw. “It always bothered her that I had an Associate’s Degree and never went back. We’d go down to the beach near Atlantic City, unfold the chairs, start reading, and she’d throw throw the education section from the Sunday paper at me and say, ‘Here, find something to do.’

“Finally she said, ‘You know, I think you can be a physician,’ and I said ‘I think you’re out of your mind, all I know is the nightclub. Look, I’ll bet you $100 that if I apply I will not get into medical school,’ and she said, ‘I’ll bet you $100 you do.’ And I said, “One further, if I’m going to be a physician of any type, I’m going to be a dentist so I can make my own hours,'” recalled Shaw.

“And from that one little bet, they accepted me into dental school. If anybody ever steered me in the right direction, that relationship did,” she added.

And what steered Shaw into seeking re-election to New Hope Borough Council? “I didn’t feel like it was time for me to leave,” she said. “And we’re losing two key people that are not running for re-elecyion, Ed and Sharon, and I thought Sharon and I have really been the main ones on Council and that someone had to stay there to make sure that, as Sharon mentored me, I make sure if I’m re-elected and president that I begin to mentor that next person to take over, because by the second term, you’re only beginning to to get it, if you’ve been involved,” she replied.

“I also want to see Odette’s come to fruition, and it has recently changed hands, but I think that once they make settlement, the organization that is buying it will make an announcement that will be very good news for this end if town.” Shaw views Odette’s as a strategic asset for the borough, much like the Bucks County Playhouse and canal.

“It is the gateway to New Hope,” she said. “Just imagine coming north on River Road and seeing this beautiful structure, lit up, nicely done — I’ll be happy to see it, although I have the whole parking lot to myself — but I think it’s an absolutely great thing.  That’s another plus for the business community — we do have a residential community, too,” observed Shaw. “And people sometimes tend to forget that part of it,” she added.

Another main concern for Shaw during an additional term would be the borough budget. “I think it’s very important that we’re sound fiscally,” she said. “Our police pension is 80% funded, the non-union employees are 100% funded, but it concerns me because everybody else outside our community is having their financial issues, but we’re sound. The future of New Hope is so important to me, and I know we’re moving in the right direction, and I just want to make sure it stays that way.

“I also think it’s important to look to to the future and go green,” continued Shaw. “We need to look for some incentives for property owners and landlords of businesses to keep them filled..incentives to improve their properties. And although we’re still an art center, we’re not near where we once were. We lost a lot of galleries, we’ve kind of lost that local, funky artist flair, and I’d really like to see it come back.

“Embrace, and allow people to be. I love walking uptown to get a bite to eat, and do it like five times a week — I get crabs at Fran’s and stumble home — I just love knowing everybody. There’s some comfort in that, there really is. It’s a great place to live.”

About the Author

- “Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein

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