POLS ON THE STREET: Will Soda Tax Stir 2019 Races?… Flurry of Primary Picks

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L-R WERE Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Harper, Melissa Scott, Marian Tasco and 50th Ward Committeewoman Parri Frazier. Photo by Brandon C. Ballard

Philadelphia’s controversial Sweetened Drinks Tax already bids to be a leading issue in the 2019 mayoral race.

Despite the addition of new pre-K seats and community schools across the city, only Center City residents approve of the measure, according to a poll paid for by the American Beverage Association.

David Binder Research based its report on telephone interviews conducted Apr. 4-8 with 600 Philadelphians selected from voter-registration rolls, about half reached by cell phone and the other half by landline. Age and race were controlled for.

Health groups, in contrast, are furiously advocating for a tax that was not sold by the Kenney administration as a health measure. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Action Network, the American Medical Society and the Food Trust joined 16 national and local health organizations that to file an amicus brief on behalf of the tax as it faces final disposition by the State Supreme Court. The ABA-backed lawsuit, which has lost so far, will be heard by the SC in mid-May.

FIVE CANDIDATES for lieutenant governor, or their spokespersons, attended a 27th Ward Democratic forum last week: Nina Ahmad, Kathi Cozzone, John Fetterman, Ray Sosa and incumbent Mike Stack. All but Fetterman are from Philadelphia or its suburbs. Lt. Gov. Stack aids a constituent with an incarcerated family member while East Braddock, Pa. Mayor Fetterman awaits his turn to speak.

The plaintiffs include Philadelphia restaurants such as City View Pizza and John’s Roast Pork, as well as several components of the beverage industry.

Along with the lawsuit, the soda tax also faces a challenge within the State House by State Rep. Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny), who has introduced legislation, under review by the Commerce Committee, to preempt local taxation of sweetened beverages throughout Pennsylvania.

There is always resistance even to a popular mayor such as Jim Kenney. Look for all ambitious opponents to coalesce around the soda-tax issue. It’s not so much that this is the biggest concern facing Philadelphia; rather, that there is no path to challenging him in the 2019 primary that does not necessitate opposing his signature initiative.

Penna. AFL-CIO Picks Primary Slate

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has released the list of endorsed candidates for the 2018 primary and special elections.

FORMER banker Michele Lawrence of Fishtown announced the endorsement by two prominent clergymen in her quest for the 2nd Congressional District Democratic nomination. L-R were Nicole Butler-Guindo, Nadira Branch, Sheila Horn, Lawrence, Rev. Dr. Stephen Avinger and Rev. George Tynes. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Prior to the State Federation’s convention, the Executive Council unanimously endorsed the reelection campaigns of Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

“Both Gov. Wolf and Sen. Casey have proven their stalwart support for working people and their economic rights, said Pennsylvania AFL-CIO leader Rick Bloomingdale. “Now is a critical time in the fight for economic justice and the right to join in a union. Throughout 2018, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and its 51 affiliated labor unions will work to elect candidates who boldly support working people in the fight for a fair economy and dignity at work.

In Philadelphia races, the AFL-CIO endorses Congressman Brendan Boyle in the 2nd Congressional District, Congressman Dwight Evans in the rd District and Rich Lazer in the 5th.

THE DUCKY BIRTS Foundation issued its annual Medallion Awards at 1st District Plaza in University City last Saturday. Surrounding the venerable Donald “Ducky” Birts at the award luncheon were, L-R, Attorney Rania Major, Sheriff Jewell Williams, former State Rep. Ron Waters, restaurateur Sid Booker and attorney Carmella Jacquinto. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Local State House endorsees consist of State Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-Kensington) in the 175th District, Sean Kilkenny in the 177th District, State Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-Kensington) in the 179th, Malcolm Kenyatta in the 181st, Jonathan Rowan in the 184th, Jim Roebuck in the 188th and State Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D-Northwest) in the 198th and State Rep. Chris Rabb (D-Northwest) in the 200th.

SEIU Endorses Hohenstein, Rabb

Service Employees International Union Pennsylvania State Council endorsed Democratic State Rep. Chris Rabb (D-Northwest) in the 200th Legislative District and Joe Hohenstein in the in 177th District.

“Joe Hohenstein came from a union family and is committed to protecting working people’s wages, retirement security, health care and protection on the job. Joe Hohenstein stands for fair funding of Philadelphia’s public schools and will fight to make sure that Harrisburg invests real money in Philadelphia’s roads, bridges and transit,” said Gabe Morgan, President of SEIU PA State Council.

COUNCILMAN Bobby Henon, L, joined Jack Braunstein and Andrea McCollough to celebrate Earth Day at the Philadelphia Insectarium & Butterfly Pavilion in Torresdale. Let’s hope the councilman’s magic succeeded in putting some leaves on the streets this spring! Photo by Bill Myers

“We support Rabb because he has demonstrated that he’s willing to fight so that Philadelphia’s prosperity is seen in all neighborhoods,” said Morgan. “He supports raising the wage to $15 an hour. And he has prioritized full and fair funding of Philadelphia’s schools.”

SEIU has a reputation for serious streetwork during campaign season.

Fiedler Scores 2 Prog Groups’ Backing

Elizabeth Fiedler, campaigning to fill State Rep. Bill Keller’s (D-S. Phila.) seat, plucked endorsements from Neighborhood Networks, a grassroots progressive organization that has shown some staying power since 2004, and 215 People’s Alliance, an organization fighting for racial and economic justice.

“Neighborhood Networks was wowed by Elizabeth Fiedler with her deep understanding of a broad range of issues, with her concerted campaign to touch the lives of all of her constituents, with her energy and devotion to economic and social justice and with her background as a rural Pennsylvanian with the potential to cross the tough divides in Harrisburg to make real change,” said Gloria Gilman, chair of Neighborhood Networks.

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