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May 2018 Election, May 18 (7 AM-8 PM)

US Senate: Bob Casey Casey (the incumbent) is running unopposed in this primary election. He was a productive part of the legislative progress made in the Obama era. Now in the minority, he nevertheless makes his voice heard at key moments in opposition to bad ideas coming from the Republican majority. To lose this seat to the Republicans in the fall would make it that much easier for them to enact Trump's agenda.

PA Governor: Tom Wolf

Our incumbent governor is also running unopposed in this primary election. As in the Senate election, Republicans are licking their lips at the prospect of unseating him. Given that Wolf is the only bulwark against our Republican legislature's Trump-like priorities, losing this race in November would be bad news.

 

PA Lieutenant Governor: John Fetterman

The incumbent Mike Stack has been beset by scandal over the past four years, primarily for a prolonged pattern of verbal abuse against the staff that works for him. Four challengers are looking to take his place. Among that group, John Fetterman is an appealing option with his energetic brand of populism begun in his surprisingly successful run for US Senate in 2016.

U.S. Congress: Dwight Evans

The recent redistricting that resulted from a state Supreme Court case that threw out the previous districts as biased has put us in a new district (#3). There are two candidates running for Congress in this new district, Dwight Evans (a member of Congress in the old 2nd district since 2016, and previously a longtime state legislator) and Kevin Johnson (a pastor turned CEO of a workforce development organization). Johnson seemed like a perfectly respectable candidate, but is a newcomer to politics. Evans is strongly linked to the City machine, which raises some concerns, but he also has a long record of success in bringing funds to his district, a very helpful trait in a representative of a cash-strapped city to Congress.

PA General Assembly: Mike O'Brien

Incumbent O'Brien is being challenged by Debby Derricks, a Kensington community organizer who has worked on veteran homelessness issues (among other things). Like in the Congressional race, her newcomer status has some appeal but her inexperience is hard to line up with the benefits that come from O'Brien's relatively long time in office.

Democratic State Committee: Micah Mahjoubian, Mary Isaacson, Jon Geeting

This obscure race is to select folks who will represent our region at the state Democratic Party. There are 13 candidates and you get to vote for 8, and the rules for who wins are quite obscure (they involve, among other things, issues of gender balance). Of the three we list here, two are from our neighborhood (fellow committeepeople, in fact) and Geeting is a young journalist who currently works for Philly 3.0. You may recognize some other names on the ballot (such as the head of City Council); it's usually a mix of politicians and judges plus local politically-active folks who get the urge to try a run.

Ward Executive Committee of the Democratic Party: Andrea Missias and Michael Boshes

This is us! This is the official name for local "committeepeople", who attend ward meetings to hear from candidates, talk about possible endorsements, help organize the polling place (though the official authority at the polling place is the judge of elections), and work in the neighborhood to increase voter turnout. This year, with Rob having filled a vacancy for Judge of Elections, we asked Michael to join in this work. There's also a third candidate, Vanessa Snyder, but we only just learned of her candidacy, so don't know what inspired her to want to get involved. 

Ballot Questions

1. Require each annual operating budget to fund a Police Advisory Commission at a level of at least $500K

RECOMMENDATION: YES

This represents an increase from the current funding level of $400K for this commission and thus commits a marginal amount of new revenue to the task of encouraging the police department to improve relations with the communities they work in.

2. Confirm the role of a Board of Education to administer the School District of Philadelphia, and establishing a few new rules governing that Board

RECOMMENDATION: YES

This question is hard to make sense of, since it appears to be about restoring local control of schools to the city, by creating a Board of Education to replace the state's SRC board. However, in fact, that move is already a done deal, and not something that voters need to "confirm".

This question is really about changing some of the details of how the Board of Education will be run ("public participation in the Educational Nominating Panel process, revising eligibility requirements, requiring City Council confirmation of School Board appointments, requiring a stated reason for removing a School Board Member, and establishing a Parent and Community Advisory Council."). According to reporting by WHYY, many of these changes are looking to give City Council a larger role in the oversight of the Board of Ed, whereas the current setup gives more power to the mayor.

Despite the confusing nature of this question, the set of changes seem reasonable on balance (and the Committee of Seventy agrees)

3. Require sexual harassment training for all City officers and employees

RECOMMENDATION: YES

There is currently no such requirement. It's not very well spelled out what this training would look like, or what it would cost, which are worries, but given the almost daily revelation of sexual harassment in a wide variety of corporate and political settings, it does seem right to try to do something.