Welcome to Philly Five Five!

Home Elected Officials Neighborhood Useful Links

May 2017 Election, May 16 (7 AM-8 PM)

St. George's Greek Orthodox Church (in the back hall, not the church itself)

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

Note: Some recommendations changed from our ward letter due to more recent information

PA Supreme Court: Dwayne Woodruff

The top of the ballot is for state-wide courts; in this case, Woodruff is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination

PA Superior Court: Carolyn Nichols, Geoff Moulton, Maria McLaughlin, Debbie Kunselman We're voting for 4 candidates out of a pool of 5, and the fifth candidate (besides Nichols, Moulton, McLaughlin, and Kunselman) was found "not recommended" by the PA Bar Association, so it seems pretty clear to go with these four.
PA Commonwealth Court: Joe Cosgrove, Ellen Ceisler There are 6 candidates running for 2 slots in this race. Cosgrove was the one candidate rated "Highly Recommended" by the PA Bar Association. Of the rest, four were rated "Recommended", and among these we've chosen Ceisler because she is a local judge who has impressed us in the past when we've seen her speak

Phila Common Pleas Judge: there are 27 candidates for 9 slots (so you can vote for up to 9)

Suggestions below one at a time, in order that they appear on the ballot. All of our 9 selections were recommended by the Phila Bar Association (8 of the 29 candidates were not recommended)

Stella Tsai

We didn't get to meet her this time around, but did two years ago and were impressed by her then. Appointed by Governor Wolf last year to serve on this court on an interim basis, she's now running for a full term

Vikki Kristiansson

Experience as an Assistant DA and as a trainer of police and prosecutors on rape and domestic violence. Has gotten a pile of endorsements and impressed our ward in her visit

Henry Sias

On the young side but very smart (Yale law school, then clerked for two state Supreme Court justices). Seeking to become what he says would be the first trans male judge in the US. His inexperience with the political system may undo him, but his ballot position is pretty good and he seems very competent.

Vincent Furlong Appointed to this court by Governor Wolf for an interim term, he sits in family court and was clearly a caring and committed judge in that very important setting (that is avoided by a lot of the better judges). He is getting limited support because he is a registered Republican who "cross-filed" (so he's running in both the Democratic and Republican primaries), but really, judges should be a non-political position, and it seems very wrong to not support someone who wants to serve family court and seems clearly to be excellent at it
Daniel Sulman Similar to Furlong, he was appointed to family court as an interim and seems to embrace it and sounded competent. Not as convincing as Furlong, but still seemed earnest and capable for this underappreciated role.
Leon Goodman Lots of experience as a prosecutor (16 yrs, including time under Lynne Abraham and Seth Williams) in high-level departments (habitual offender, rape, homicide). Also one of only two candidates certified to defend capital cases. Made a compelling case that despite all this high-profile experience, he has continually worked on juvenile cases, and his motivation for running was to serve the court in that capacity.
Wendy Barish A local resident, she is well known to, and respected by, several members of our ward committee. Has experience as a law-firm partner, an arbitrator/mediator, and now as Deputy General Counsel at the PHA
Zac Shaffer The other candidate (besides Goodman above) who is certified to defend capital cases, Shaffer made a good impression at our ward meeting and got strong supporting testimony from members of our ward committee who knew his work, e.g., on advocating for better pay for those who serve as defense attorney for those who can not afford to pay, or for the expungement of juvenile records.
Jennifer Schultz She has different experience than most other candidates, in that she works for Community Legal Services, an organization that provides free legal services to low-income Philadephians. She seemed earnest and competent (went to Cornell Law School, and about 15 years of experience since then) and would bring a useful other perspective to the bench.
Phila Municipal Court Judge: Marissa Brumbach and George Twardy Each is recommended by the Philadelphia Bar and seemed good in their visit to our ward. Each has run their own practice for decades and seems earnest enough to do a good job in the low-prestige Municipal Court
District Attorney: Larry Krasner

This is the most hotly contested race on the ballot, with an open primary after incumbent Seth Williams more or less had to step down over ethical issues. In the complicated stew of name-recognition, racial politics, endorsements, and funding, one can argue that each of the seven candidates has a plausible path to victory. One can imagine the winner getting, say, 20% of the vote, with a bunch of others in the 10-19% range.

We are most impressed with Joe Khan and Larry Krasner, and indeed our ward was split in supporting those two.   Each made a strong presentation at our ward meeting and brings a distinct set of strengths to the position.  Khan has 16 years of prosecutorial experience, in both the District Attorney’s and US Attorney’s Office, and thus should be well set up to work with the current DA office staff.  That said, he is not running entirely as a status quo candidate: his platform embraces reforms like getting rid of cash bail and not prosecuting many low-level drug offenses.  He’s smart, well-spoken, and savvy enough to rise from a relative unknown to a well-funded candidate with some key endorsements (though we haven't been particularly impressed with his mailings so far).

            In a close call over Khan, however, we support Krasner.  Krasner has been a top defense lawyer in the city for decades, with a major focus on civil rights cases, including political-convention and Black Lives Matters protesters.  Most of the seven candidates have gravitated toward a common platform of reforms like decarceration and ending stop-and-frisk.  Krasner has championed those reforms for decades, and that’s obvious when he talks about them.  For us, that tips the scales in his favor.  Though his experience is on the other side of the aisle from the DA, that experience is extensive and excellent, and we don’t doubt his commitment to the core job of a DA to seek justice in serious crimes.  But in addition, his election would give him a megaphone to speak out against the excesses of the law-and-order culture that too often pervades our society.  Krasner seems uniquely qualified to take that megaphone and become a strong countervoice, even at the national level.

City Controller: Rebecca Rhynhart

The incumbent Alan Butkovitz is running again and will likely win, given the power of incumbency and his political connections. In addition, there is an honest sense that he has done some good work, e.g., in the audit of the Sherriff's Office, though others argue that he has not been as aggressive and timely as he might have been, which seems possible given that he has long been an integral part of the political machine.

Rhynhart has experience in the top-levels of city government (serving as the Chief Administrative Officer under Mayor Kenney and Budget Director under Mayor Nutter) and also in the business sector (e.g., she was Managing Director at Bean Stearns for 3 years). Relatively young (she graduated college from Middlebury in 1996 and then got a Masters in Public Administration in 2001), she could be a useful new voice in the city government, and she is credible enough to have earned endorsements from Ed Rendell and the Inquirer.

Judge of elections: Rob Manning Uh, that's me, the owner of this website. I've been committeeperson for this division for about ten years, but with our old judge of elections Peter Dunn having stepped down, I'm running to switch from committeeperson to judge of elections. I like the work of making the polling place run smoothly, and handling the occasional intricacies of provisional ballots or other confusions in a way that both respects the law and at the same time makes the voting experience as positive as possible for everyone.
Inspector of Elections: Iris Boshes

Iris has served with distinction in this role for the past eight years, helping run the election table and keep the voting experience quick and enjoyable. We're always grateful for her help.

Ballot Question #1:Yes

Wording of the question: "Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to allow for the award of certain contracts based on best value to the City?"

Our understanding is that this is a move away from the current "accept the lowest qualifying bid" rule that can sometimes constrain the City to accept a bid that is not actually the best option (or even a good option). This new wording would allow more judgment to be exercised to avoid those situations. For more expert analysis of this ballot question, see the Committee of Seventy's ballot question page

Ballot Question #2:Yes

Wording of the question: "Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for the creation of a Philadelphia Community Reinvestment Commission to be charged with recommending coordinated community reinvestment strategies for the City of Philadelphia by identifying opportunities for public, private, and philanthropic entities to collaborate and leverage their resources for the public good?"

We're less sure of this one. It seems to be the brainchild of Council President Darrell Clarke to stimulate more public-private partnerships, and that sounds like a good idea. But on the other hand, we've created a lot of commissions, and it's not clear whether they really move the city forward or not. The Committee of Seventy seems similarly undecided, as you can read on their ballot question page