OUR OPINION: Our Endorsements in the Philadelphia Primary

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If nothing else, this year’s political activity has proven that in a post-2016 electoral landscape, there is no such thing as an “off year.” Nowhere has that been more aptly demonstrated than in the two marquee primaries in Philadelphia’s May 16 primary: the Democratic races for city controller and district attorney.

Challenger Rebecca Rhynhart’s résumé has enough depth and breadth across both the public and private sectors to make her a viable candidate for controller, but we can find no compelling reason to oust incumbent Alan Butkovitz. While he has run a campaign too often focused on pettily disparaging a challenger than would be expected from a three-term incumbent, for his track record – and the number of high-profile figures his audits have targeted – we endorse Butkovitz to continue helming the controller’s office.

In determining whom to endorse in the Democratic primary for Philadelphia district attorney, the Public Record editorial board mirrored the rest of the city. A split board found votes cast for Jack O’Neill, the 35-year-old whose 10-year career at the DAO ended when he left his position last year, as well as for Larry Krasner, the longtime progressive defense attorney.

In the end, much as we suspect will happen next week, there was a plurality for Rich Negrín, the city’s former managing director. Among the contenders, there has famously been a degree of unanimity on a number of issues, from bail reform to civil-asset forfeiture to re-entry programs. Yet, to our thinking, there is only one candidate who not only has the experience as a prosecutor in the DAO, but as a successful manager of multiple city agencies with hundreds of employees and multimillion-dollar budgets.

Last – and most crucially – Negrín has a well-established reputation in crisis management and as a turnaround specialist. In addition to fulfilling the requirements of being the city’s top law-enforcement official, the next DA will have to contend with a 600-person workforce that has been buffeted, targeted and demoralized by a constant stream of rumors, allegations and revelations about current DA Seth Williams’ activities. Rebuilding workplace morale, retaining and attracting top-flight staffers and re-establishing trust will be just as important within the DAO as it will be for dealing with a skeptical and disenchanted public.
Most of the candidates in this race have solid credentials. But for these reasons, we endorse Rich Negrín for district attorney.

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One Response to OUR OPINION: Our Endorsements in the Philadelphia Primary

  1. I think you guys misjudged the impact of Larry Krasner. Negrin was a safe pick but he didn’t connect with voters.

    Michael Bell
    May 17, 2017 at 9:39 am

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