by Joe Shaheeli
This may be the first time in about five decades the primary ballot will find more judicial applicants competing in the primary ballot than at-Large Council candidates.
The reason is obvious, when you compare the numbers of open seats.
There are only seven at-Large City Council seats up for grabs. We understand, as other smart potential candidates do as well, the 10 district seats are presently held by incumbents who look to be locked into their seats for a number of reasons. Among them is the fact incumbency is a powerful reelection tool. So few will face challengers.
However, this time around, the judicial vacancies to be filled are 10 in Common Pleas Court, three in Municipal Court, one in Commonwealth Court, one in Superior Court, and three in the Supreme Court … a total of 18 slots.
Since Superior Court and Supreme Court are statewide, candidates for these two higher chambers will be listed in the city’s ballot. So look for more candidates than usual to file for these seats, which are considered the ultimate achievement for most attorneys.
Those running for municipal office will go to Room 142 City Hall Feb. 17, to pick up petitions which can be circulated by that date. Acting Supervisor of Elections Tim Dowling and his capable staff will be on hand to give out as many petitions as are requested and answer questions. Ballots need to be returned no later than 5 p.m. Mar. 10.
Candidates will enjoy two months of campaigning to reach voters, since Election Day is May 19.
Judicial candidates will need to get their nominating petitions from Pennsylvania Dept. of State. Endorsed candidates will be supplied to them from their respective City Committee headquarters.
This will be a long ballot for voters, meaning those somewhere near the bottom in the at-Large Council races will lose a substantial number of votes.
Here’s why. Judicial candidates are listed at the top, beginning with the Supremes. After the judges come the local city position of Mayor, with at least four in that race, then three City Commissioners, followed by Register of Wills.
We don’t see anyone with smarts running against Register of Wills Ron Donatucci. He’s done his job extremely well. The City Commissioners will see at least three candidates challenging incumbents on both Democrat and Republican ballots.
The City Commissioners will be pressed on how to fit in this record-size ballot of challengers on the voting machine.
With two at-Large Republican incumbents – veteran Councilman David Oh and former House Speaker Denny O’Brien – the City GOP’s five spots will see a number of challengers. As an expected minority party on general-election night, the top two candidates will take their seats, along with the five Democrats who finish at the top.
Aiming for one of those two slots is attorney Matt Wolfe, who has sought a Council seat before. He’s ahead of most other challengers. His campaign team is in place, his finance committee is set up and he has continuously hosted fellow Republican ward leaders at his home in University City. He’s also a maven on campaign financing and the guy to go to for information on how to file nominating petitions and campaign-finance reports.
This Tuesday, Wolfe held a campaign-finance-law party to ensure supporters realize there is a Dec. 31 financial-compliance deadline.
He scheduled this fundraiser, he said, since “Philadelphia’s campaign-finance law runs by calendar year rather than by election cycle like most such laws.
“Because of that, it is important that anyone who is inclined to contribute at this time do so on or before Dec. 31.
“The maximum an individual can contribute is $2,900 per year. The maximum a political action committee can contribute is $11,500.” A Democratic candidate, George Matysik, scheduled a fundraiser on the same night, for the same reason.
State Rep.-Elect Leslie Acosta announced her constituent-services office is open and ready to assist residents of the 197th Legislative Dist.
Acosta’s office, located at 511 W. Courtland Street, Suite 197, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number is (215) 457-5281, and Spanish and Vietnamese translation services are available.
Acosta will also provide updates online at www.facebook.com/RepLeslieAcosta and www.twitter.com/repleslieacosta.
Acosta, a former social worker, is the first woman elected to the 197th Legislative Dist., which includes Feltonville, Fairhill, Hunting Park, Lower Kensington, Allegheny West, and North Central Philadelphia. Her top legislative priorities include strengthening educational opportunities, boosting economic development, providing access to affordable housing, and bolstering communities. Her dad Ralph Acosta served in the General Assembly as a representative. Acosta will be sworn into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Jan. 6.
James Williams, Republican Ward Leader from the 50th Ward, has launched a campaign website for his 2015 candidacy for Philadelphia City Council at Large. It is www.jameswilliamsforcitycouncil.com.
“The web is a great tool for reaching voters,” said Williams. “This site was created to address the most-important issues facing Philadelphia.”
At a press conference Monday, State Rep. Curtis Thomas (D-N. Phila.) came out in strong support of the Philadelphia Police Dept.
Thomas said he was“here with members of the community, including the faith-based community, to stand in support of the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Dept. The various tragic events of the past year have spurred much discussion and debate, and while I am eager to participate in conversations about needed reforms, I want to end this year by clearly stating my support for our brothers and sisters in blue.”
Thomas particularly commended Philadelphia Homicide Capt. John Clark, Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel for their leadership and positive interactions with the community. Thomas also praised the captains of the local police districts servicing his district, including Brian Korn, 6th Police Dist.; Robert Glenn, 22nd Police Dist.; Michael Cram, 25th Police Dist.; Jacqueline Bailey-Pittman, 26th Police Dist.; and Joseph Fredricksdorf, 35th Police Dist.