POLS ON THE STREET: Three’s Too Many in the First

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DOWN FRONT at the Pennsylvania Society banquet were, seated, Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf and her husband Gov. Tom Wolf, with Joan Hilferty; standing behind them are, L-R, Paul & Christine Tufano and Dan Hilferty. Photo by Bonnie Squires

BY JOE SHAHEELI

Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, which takes in most of the River Wards and South Philadelphia along with a good chunk of Delaware County, is preparing for an unaccustomed tussle in the Philadelphia Democratic primary next year.

Deputy Mayor of Public Engagement Dr. Nina Ahmad quit her City position to announce a run against Congressman Bob Brady (D-Phila.) in the 2018 Democratic primary. She was an early supporter of Kenney’s in the mayoral race. A Bangladeshi immigrant, Dr. Ahmad is well known in high councils when Asian concerns are weighed. She is a Northwest Philly resident.

Dr. Ahmad’s ambitions, though, clash with those of Lindy Li. A Center City resident with a Princeton degree, Li contended for the Democratic nomination to the 6th Congressional District seat in 2016, when she was 26. Li makes no bones that she wants to advance politically; for that matter, neither does Dr. Ahmad.

Both candidates have impeccable credentials. But two facts jump out.

SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel inaugurated the newly renovated 40th Street subway station, which includes elevators, joined by handicapped riders as well as State Sen. Vincent Hughes, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and Congressman Dwight Evans.

First: Both of Brady’s challengers are Asian American; but only 5% of the district’s voters are Asian American. Secondly: Neither of them now live in the district.

Brady, a vigorous 72-year-old, is in no danger in the 2018 primary. But he can be useful by letting these young Democrats sharpen their teeth against him. His party will need them in years to come.

In the meantime, Ahmad and Li may wish to study the art of the deal – Democrat-style. In addition to his other duties, Brady is a ward leader who chairs Democratic City Committee. The path to their future in this city lies partly through their respected opponent.

Dr. Ahmad will enjoy the goodwill of Mayor Jim Kenney, whom she served under. He praised her for “connecting with the City’s key constituencies. She has overseen the Office of Black Male Engagement, the Philadelphia Commission for Women, the Millennial Advisory Committee, the Mayors Commission on African American Males, the Philadelphia Youth Commission and the Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs. Nina also helped shepherd the first-ever 2017 State of Women & Girls in Philadelphia summit and report.”

MAYOR Jim Kenney attended the annual AFL-CIO holiday party. Kenney is a long-time friend of labor. With the mayor is, L-R, Dave Conway Esq., potential judicial candidate; Rich Lazer, deputy mayor; Pat Eiding, host; Kenney; and Veterans Court Judge Pat Dugan. Photo by Joe Stivala

In Taylor’s Dist., Dems 2, Reps 0?

State Rep. John Taylor (R-Northeast) is retiring. His Mayfair-Bridesburg-Port Richmond 177th District, long hospitable to working-class Republicans, is now up for grabs.

Democrats are salivating. They have a registration edge in this district. Taylor’s constituent service is legendary; for decades, no one in the River Wards bothered to talk to anyone else when they needed to get things done by a humble but competent public servant.

But with Taylor out, his district comes into play. Now we’re seeing a Democratic primary fight.

Immigration lawyer Joe Hohenstein carried the Democratic banner against Taylor in 2016 and did okay. He’s made it known he wants it even more in 2018. Hohenstein would represent the “progressive” wing – which today refers more to culture than to policy. He appeals to smart young college-educated types – a demographic that’s popping up in parts of the district.

Now comes Maggie Borski, daughter of former Congressman Bob Borski. She carries a family name familiar in the Northeast. She’ll have ward support and union support.

Intriguingly, Republican City Committee seems stymied over the task of picking a candidate to replace Taylor. As we went to press, RCC campaign mavens could not name a single person they thought worthy to fill Taylor’s shoes.

Good luck with that race.

League of 1789 Grows Its Presence

This body presents an interesting evolution within the Pennsylvania Society. It aims to facilitate minority political influence at the highest levels of Keystone State public discourse.

ASIAN American Federation of the United States issued dozens of awards to meritorious police officers at Ocean Harbor Restaurant in Chinatown on Dec. 1. City Controller Alan Butkovitz issued an award to Zhangyuan Chen.

This body’s reception, presented by Coca-Cola, honored two dynamic political officials for their public service on Saturday, Dec. 2: N.Y.C Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and Montgomery County Commissioner, Kenneth Lawrence, Jr.

With the emergence of bipartisan leaders of color in Pennsylvania and New York, the goal of the League of 1789 is to continue to introduce and celebrate the importance of diversity inclusion during the Pennsylvania Society weekend.

Saturday’s reception had an attendance of 150 people that consists of elected officials (PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro; Speaker of the House Mike Turzai; various business leaders of color, and sponsors Coca-Cola, PHMC, Ahmad Zaffarese Law, StoneRidge PMG Advisors, WES Health System, Greenberg Trauig, Loop Capital, Hardwick Law LLC, Cozen O’Connor, Dilworth Paxson LLP, CH2M, Janney, Lyft, Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., LLC, and Vertex Financial.

Rendell Goes Big on Fetterman

We understand the temptation. How can any Pennsylvania Democrat not swoon over rising star John Fetterman, a huge man who serves as a small-town blue-collar mayor fallen on hard times?

State Rep. Jared Solomon, L, participated in a cleanup and beautification effort at Tarken Recreation Center in Northeast Philadelphia this past Sunday. The effort was hosted by the International WeLoveU Foundation. Solomon and participants picked up trash, painted the exterior and installed new nets on the basketball hoops.

Fetterman ran an impressive race for U.S. senator in 2016, grabbing 19% of the vote with a budget of about 12 cents.

So when former everything Ed Rendell endorsed Fetterman for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary, he was placing a shrewd bet on the future.

But he was definitely not betting on Philadelphia. Why should the brightest star in the Keystone State economy be cut out of Democratic leadership in the Commonwealth? The ex-mayor’s eye may no longer be on the city he once led.

It’s too soon to say what the long-term future of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party will be; it must first win key 2020 elections to ensure a place at the redistricting table. Who’s working on this? But retaining the governorship in 2018 will be important to this objective.

Commonwealth Ct.: Green Not Chair of SRC

Commonwealth Court let stand Gov. Tom Wolf’s removal of Bill Green as Chair of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission. Wolf removed Green as chair in 2015, immediately after Green led a vote to approve new charter schools in the city.

Green filed a lawsuit in 2016 to shield the SRC from political manipulation and to protect the independence of the office of Chair. The suit argued that SRC chair is an independent office and appointees to that office could not be removed without cause.

TACONY residents rejoiced when their neighborhood library was rehabilitated. Councilman Bobby Henon, beneath the balloons, played a key role in the grant as well as the rejoicing. Photo by Harry Leech

Commonwealth Court’s ruling, written by Judge Joseph M. Cosgrove, acknowledged that Green was removed without cause, stating, “[T]here is no question that Petitioner [Green] has not engaged in any such malfeasance or misfeasance,” but determined that SRC chair is not an independent office entitled to protection from such removal:

“Petitioner was not removed from office. While he no longer holds the position of chairman, he is nonetheless a full, commissioned member of the SRC in good standing.”

Bill Green released the following statement in response to the court’s decision:

“The SRC, while not always agreeing, has worked effectively as a team and accomplished a great deal. It is now settled that Marge Neff and Joyce Wilkerson were and are chair. I will continue to work with Chair Wilkerson to make sure the transition to local control is as smooth as possible. While I don’t agree with every aspect of the ruling, it does not seem worth pursuing this matter further, given last month’s vote to dissolve the SRC.

“I want to thank the Fairness Center for taking on this case and acknowledge the hard work of attorneys David Osborne and Karin Sweigart.”

ROBERT DELLAVELLA, ESQ., Leader of Ward 55 (2nd from L) is wished a hearty get-well after his recent surgery by participants of the Local 98 Toys for Tots Party in McFaddens at Phillies Stadium. Well-wishers include, L-R, Giovanni Gabrielli, Angie Dellavella, State Rep. Mike Driscoll and Councilman Bobby Henon.

“The court has determined that the SRC chair can be appointed or dismissed at the governor’s whim,” commented David Osborne, president of the Fairness Center. “Since Wolf did not also remove Bill as an SRC member, the court ruled in the governor’s favor and dismissed the lawsuit.”

Green is a native Philadelphian who has been a member of the School Reform Commission since 2014. He also served as a Democratic city councilman at-large in Philadelphia 2008-2014. Green resigned from city council to join the SRC as chair as a volunteer, giving up his $130,000-a-year council salary and a pension because he believes Philadelphia’s children deserve the opportunity to receive a great education.

In the private sector, Green has founded several businesses and represented Fortune 500 companies and start-ups as a corporate lawyer.

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One Response to POLS ON THE STREET: Three’s Too Many in the First

  1. Respectfully, Mr. Shaheeli, your section discussing the race for John Taylor’s seat is factually inaccurate, and missing at least two other candidates. Sean Patrick Wayland declared and filed committee paperwork with the state in March of this year, fully 7 more months before any other candidate had declared, including Joe Hohenstein. A number of other local publications and online news sites have discussed Sean Patrick Wayland’s campaign in some detail in recent months. I would welcome the chance to speak with you further about this race if you have any other questions, or would like to learn more about Mr. Wayland’s candidacy. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Sarah Cailean
    December 9, 2017 at 3:17 pm

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