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May 2015 Election, May 19 (7 AM-8 PM)

St. George's Greek Orthodox Church (back hall)

8th Street, between Spruce and Locust (enter on 8th, through church parking lot)

PA Supreme Court: Anne Lazarus, Kevin Dougherty

Three of the seven seats on the court are up for election, so this is a rare chance to substantially change the complexion of the state's top court. Lazarus is a distinguished member of the Superior Court. We never thought we'd support a judge related to Johnny Doc, but Dougherty has a good record as a Common Pleas judge and administrative judge of Family Court. If both were elected, we would add two Philadelphia voices to a court that is almost exclusively non-Philadelphia.

If you want to use all three of your votes, David Wecht, another Superior Court judge, seems like a strong candidate.

Lazarus, Wecht, and Christine Donohue got "Highly Recommended" ratings from the PA Bar Association; Dougherty and the other two candidates (Foradora, Woodruff) got "Recommended" ratings, with the Bar having the most positive things to say about Dougherty (see here)

PA Superior Court: Alice Beck Dubow

Dubow is a Philadelphia Common Pleas judge; the other candidate (Robert Colville) holds the same position in Pittsburgh. We're leaning toward the Philadelphia voice due to under-representation in Harrisburg. On the other hand, Colville got a "Highly Recommended" rating from the Bar whereas Dubow got only "Recommended"

PA Commonwealth Court:Todd Eagen

Two West PA candidates in this race (Eagen and Wojcik), so we didn't get to meet either of them. Both got "Recommended" ratings from the Bar, but Eagen's seemed a bit stronger.

Phila Common Pleas Court: Ken Powell, James Berardinelli, Rainy Papademetriou, Abbe Fletman, Leon King, Anthony Kyriakakis, Kai Scott, Mia Roberts-Perez, Betsy Wahl, Vincent Melchiorre, Chris Mallios, Stella Tsai

This is a monster race, with 43 candidates vying for 12 spots. We met a bunch of impressive and/or earnest candidates to assemble the list of 12 candidates at left.

Among the 43 candidates, just 3 got the highest rating from the Philadelphia Bar: Mallios, Fletman, and Scott. All the rest on our list were recommended by the Phila Bar. (NOTE: Two on our list -- King and Wahl -- were not named in our endorsement mailing, because at the time of our last ward meeting, they had not received a positive recommendation from the bar, but now they have.)

If you'd like to see the list of all 43, including their endorsements, you could visit Soapbox Solutions

Phila Municipal Court: Joffie Pittman, Matthew Perks, Daniel Sulman

These are the only three among the eight candidates who received a "Recommended" rating from the Phila Bar. In person, we were not impressed by Sulman, but were impressed by Christine Hope, although she did not obtain a bar recommendation.

Mayor: Jim Kenney

We didn't have a strong impression of him from his years on City Council, but he has proven to be a promising mayoral candidate, seemingly of a mind to continue the good-government progress we've seen under Nutter as well as tackle his own new initiatives. His main competitor Anthony Williams has his strengths, but it's hard to overlook his past support of school vouchers when paired with the massive support he is getting from a small hedge-fund group with "school-choice" as their mantra. And Lynne Abraham doesn't seem to have the breadth of experience of those two candidates to play all the different roles that a mayor needs to play.

City Commissioner: Carol Jenkins, Lisa Deeley With the reformer incumbent Stephanie Singer getting kicked off the ballot, it's a tough choice among the remaining candidates. The party machine has coalesced around Deeley, and she seemed competent enough in her presentation to us. Jenkins, a political scientist, seemed potentially like someone who might keep the office working to improve its functioning
Register of Wills: Ron Donatucci A political insider doing a job one rarely hears about. What are the chances some patronage is involved? Hmm.. Anyway, he's running unopposed
Sheriff: Jewell Williams Also, unopposed. Also, an elected position that maybe shouldn't be one, or even exist.
City Council At-Large Representative: Helen Gym, Sherrie Cohen

Here's a chance to add two smart and energetic new voices to Council, both with a history of forceful advocacy for our troubled city education system. We like some of the incumbents, but will vote just for these two newcomers.

If you want to use all five of your votes, we recommend the incumbents Bill Greenlee and Wilson Goode, who have been active and thoughtful councilpeople in their own ways, and either newcomer Derek Green, who has experience as Marion Tasco's chief-of-staff, or Paul Steinke, who ran the Reading Terminal recently.

City Council District Rep: Mark Squilla Our one-term incumbent, sometimes showing promise but sometimes less so (e.g., in his not-too-well-argued support of new video billboards)
Ballot Question #1 (Referendum urging end to School Reform Commission): Yes This is likely pointless, since we have seen no evidence that Harrisburg cares whether Philadelphia residents don't want the SRC. But perhaps with a new governor, a change in our school governance is on the table, and perhaps this vote will arm Gov. Wolf for that negotiation.
Ballot Question #2 (Create a Commission on Women): Yes How many top-tier female city politicians can you think of? Maybe we haven't figured this issue out yet. Honestly, we don't know the story of this one, nor really whether it's worth supporting. It probably doesn't much matter, since all ballot questions pass, unless there's some noisy opposition, and with all the races this year, ballot questions are getting no visibility.
Ballot Question #3 (Require all City agencies to promote access to those with limited English proficiency): Yes This seems like a valid part of serving the residents of our multinational city
Ballot Question #4 (Create a Commission on Universal Pre-K): Yes A commission is a long way away from a funded policy, but if it potentially helps the cause, count us in