Monday, May 14, 2007

ACM's Democratic Primary Voters' Guide (2007)

This year I feel much better informed about the candidates than I have in the past (with more personal access, rather than reliance on organizational endorsements), and yet I find the choices much harder. In part that's because for many offices the question is both whom to vote for and how many people to vote for in total. I'll try to give you both my picks and my reasoning as I go along. Please, despite the daunting ballot, make the time to vote for City Council and Sheriff, the two places that really offer an opportunity for concrete change this year. But we have recommendations for all portions of the slate as well.

We recommend Michael Nutter, for all the reasons given here, as well as for the increasing sense that he may be the only man capable of beating Tom Knox, who would be a terrible mayor for this city.

City Council At-Large (5 votes allowed):
  • Marc Stier (see here)
  • Andy Toy
  • Matt Ruben
After that group, it gets a lot more difficult. Since all three are challengers, there's something to be said for "bulleting" them by only voting for three. However, another challenger, Derek Green, is getting a lot of support among progressives and others around town (see, e.g., here), and incumbents Jim Kenney, Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Wilson Goode, Jr., and Bill Greenlee have all shown up on respectable lists and have done some good things along the way. I think this is the year to make some changes, and voting for the three men above is the most likely way to do that. If pressed to make a slate of 5, I think Derek Green and Jim Kenney would be my next picks.

See here for the Inquirer's reasoning, and here for Neighborhood Networks' endorsements, among others.

District Council races (vote for 1 in your district):
  1. DiCicco versus Anastasio -- no recommendation (sigh; see here)
  2. Verna versus Roberts -- Damon Roberts
  3. (Blackwell unopposed)
  4. Campbell versus several -- Matt McClure
  5. Clarke versus several -- Haile Johnston
  6. (Krajewski unopposed)
  7. Savage versus Quinones-Sanchez -- Maria Quinones-Sanchez
  8. Reed Miller versus several -- Irv Ackelsberg
  9. Tasco versus several -- Marian Tasco
  10. (O'Neill unopposed [Republican])

State Supreme Court (2 votes allowed):
  • C. Darnell Jones
  • Debra Todd

State Superior Court (2 votes allowed):
  • Anne Lazarus
  • Christine Donohue

Court of Common Pleas (4 votes allowed):
  • Ellen Green-Ceisler
This is the other tough race this year, because, unlike the last time around (when 8 Common Pleas judges were chosen), this time we have six candidates that are pretty clearly good options, but only 4 slots. I put Green-Ceisler alone on a line because it's pretty clear that she's everybody's top choice this year, with outstanding city service in oversight of the police department and school system, and she really deserves a vote. After that, my ordering changes by the day.
  • Mike Erdos
  • Angeles Roca
  • Linda Carpenter
  • Beverly Muldrow
  • Alice Dubow
The first three have endorsement by Neighborhood Networks and Philly for Change, which inclines me to recommend them, but Muldrow was also quite impressive (and got the Inquirer's nod), and I'd like to see more strong black judges on the bench at this level (the rest of my recommended candidates are white, although Roca is hispanic). Dubow seems to have a lot of enthusiastic supporters, and is clearly smart and sincere, although overly much is made of her having a mother with a distinguished judicial career -- at the end of the day, I think she'll be fine running another year.

Municipal Court
(2 votes allowed):
  • Diane Thompson
  • Joyce Eubanks

City Commissioner (2 votes allowed):
  • Blair Talmadge

Sheriff (choose 1):
  • Michael Untermeyer (see here)

Register of Wills (choose 1):
Ronald Donatucci (unopposed)

Clerk of the Courts (choose 1)
  • Vivian Miller

Traffic Court Judge (3 votes allowed):
  • Willie Singletary
  • Sandra Mills
  • Mike Lowry

Ballot questions:
We strongly recommend a YES vote on #4,5,6, which are all intended to improve the quality and fairness of city planning.
Note that the casino ballot measure has been blocked by court action, and will be marked off of the election day ballots. Other questions concern (#2) undoing resign-to-run laws, for which there are good arguments on each side; (#3) creation of a Youth Advisory Commission, which is well-intended but of dubious value in a tight budget era; (#7) a statement concerning redeployment of troops from Iraq, toothless, but perhaps valuable as an expression of growing public sentiment; (#8) approval of new debt, which is intended to fund good projects but bypasses the normal budget process (and adds to the city's already grim debt levels); and (#9) an attempt to forestall the property revaluation process that has already been approved by City Council and the Board of Revision of Taxes -- understandable fear of the tax man, but a this is a run-around the process already in place and which is attempting to make property taxes more fair. It's the politicians' job to make sure that long-term residents aren't hurt in the process, and this Charter Change just seems to tie everybody's hands -- we recommend a NO on #9.



Anonymous Publisher said...

Hello, ACM-

First and foremost, I would like to commend you for assembling a remarkably substantive voters' guide for this primary. It's very impressive.

This is my initial visit to your blog, and it is very well-constructed, not only in terms of the factual material and articulated opinions, but in site navigation and design as well.

Second, I publish a web site that you and your readers might be interested in, called

It is dedicated to the study and understanding of political campaigns. Most recently, I covered the May 7 debate at the National Constitution Center, and I posted a reasonably complete transcript of the post-debate media session with the candidates (I was able to briefly interview all but Fattah) and Chris Matthews. If you're interested, you can find it at

Third, some observations as we head into the final day-

(I can't vote in this election, and I am not even remotely affiliated with any of the candidates' campaigns, so these are just my own two cents...)

Per your statement, below:

"he [Nutter] may be the only man capable of beating Tom Knox..."

I would agree that it is down to a two-candidate race at this point, just as a matter of observation.

The basic dynamic of the campaign has been Knox vs. anti-Knox, and as long as none of the other four could break loose from the pack, he was assured of victory.

Now that Nutter has emerged, it seems clear that the anti-Knox alliance (a very broad coalition, I should note, of which some members have nothing whatsoever in common other than a mutual interest in defeating him)-

has now coalesced around him. In addition, Nutter's +/- rating was through the roof in the Keystone Poll - 52% +, 11% -, far better than any other candidate - and he was also the leading second choice among voters.

Anyhow, those are some thoughts on Election Eve. Reactions welcome.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Thanks for this! It really helps to make things clearer (even for someone who has looked at the ballot a million times).

9:34 PM  

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