BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Â The May 21 date set for the primary election is always viewed by newcomers and challenges as a blessing. It gives them a longer period in which to campaign and to get their messages across, especially as the weather warms up and they can reach voters more readily.
There will be two arenas seeking the attention of voters this year. In the first will be those aspiring to be judges, whether they run statewide or for the 1st Judicial Dist., which is the Philadelphia Court system and includes Common Pleas, Municipal, and Traffic Courts.
The biggest field of challengers will be for the three Traffic Court vacancies despite the efforts behind the Supreme Courtâ€™s and the Fedsâ€™ efforts to demean all Traffic Court judges, seating or removed, as unfit and need to be replaced by lawyers, who would be â€œmore educated and trustworthyâ€.
That wonâ€™t happen, since Traffic Court is a District Court and by its very nature remains the local peopleâ€™s court. It is doubtful legislators would heed any attempt to change the Cityâ€™s Traffic Court into one requiring a JD degree and bar certification. To do that would open a Pandoraâ€™s box for legislators in other counties.
However, if further aggressive investigations lead to more resignations from Traffic Court over the next six weeks, more slots could open up on the May ballot for Traffic Court.
The second arena drawing voter attention will be the race for City Controller. For whatever the reason, incumbent Alan Butkovitz, though a ward leader and continuing to build a strong track record, will have at least three challengers by filing deadline. As far as he is considered, the more the better, especially since those challengers will need deep pockets to create an image among voters throughout the city.
To its credit, the Committee of 70 is hyping the division (district) races for election-board positions as an excellent opportunity to get involved â€“ while getting paid, once elected â€“ to either the position of Judge of Election or Inspector.
Its campaign now is to interest voters in competing for those slots in the cityâ€™s 1687 districts.Â Though one judge of election will win in November, the contenders for Inspector wonâ€™t lose, only trading titles, with one assuming the title of majority and the other as minority.
Smart ward leaders will ask their Inspector candidate to make sure they lose, since the loser is the one with the authority to appoint the Clerk.
Not in contention is the position of Machine Inspector, which traditionally is filled by the cityâ€™s majority party, vesting its ward leaders with that responsibility. To be duly noted, nomination petitions for all positions can be circulated during a three-week window between Feb. 19 and Mar. 12, the last of filing for any of the offices on the ballot.
G.O.P. WANTS SUPERIOR CT. CANDIDATERS TO CHECK IN
The Republican Party of Pennsylvania is encouraging all candidates for Superior Court to contact the Party immediately for information on upcoming party events.
Starting the first week of January, State Party members have a series of meetings around the state which will allow candidates to meet grassroots activists and present their qualifications.
PAGOPâ€™s Winter Meeting is scheduled for Feb. 8-9 at the Harrisburg Hilton.
Interested candidates should send a resume or CV to Executive Dir. Mike Barley at email@example.com or call for more information (717) 234-4901.
GEN’L ASSEMBLY LEADERSHIP SET
For your info, you may want to know who is who in Harrisburg. So here are the House and Senate Leaderships:
House Democratic Leadership: Leader Frank Dermody; Whip Mike Hanna; Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel; Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla; Appropriations Committee Chairman Joe Markosek; Caucus Secretary Ron Waters, andÂ Caucus Administrator Neal Goodman.
House Republican Leadership: Sam Smith, Speaker Of The House; Majority Leader, Mike Turzai; Whip, Stan Saylor; Appropriations Chairman, William Adolph; Caucus Chairman, Sandra Major; Policy Committee Chairman, Dave Reed; Caucus Administrator, Dick Stevenson; and Caucus Secretary, Mike Vereb.
Senate Democratic Leadership: Jay Costa, Democratic Leader; Vincent J. Hughes, Appropriations Chairman; Anthony H. Williams, Democratic Whip; Richard A. Kasunic, Caucus Chairman; Christine M. Tartaglione, Caucus Secretary; Lisa Boscola, Democratic Policy Committee Chairman; and Wayne D. Fontana, Caucus Administrator.
Senate Republican Leadership: Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi; President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati; Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman; Majority Whip Pat Browne; Majority Caucus Chairman Mike Waugh; Majority Policy Committee Chairman Ted Erickson; Majority Caucus Administrator John Gordner; and Majority Caucus Secretary Bob Robbins. Pa.
LEGISLATURE MET ON NEW YEAR’S DAY
It doesnâ€™t happen that often, but the Pennsylvania Constitution requires state lawmakers to be in session on the first Tuesday in January in odd-numbered years, and that sometimes means â€“ like this weekâ€™s New Yearâ€™s Day â€“ lawmakers must be in session on New Yearâ€™s Day.
So lawmakers were in Harrisburg on Tuesday for session, which consisted simply of the swearing-in of all the Representatives and Senators elected in the November General Election.