Ok, here are my thoughts on this one. First, the main reason to turn out is the Supreme Court
races -- you may not feel really excited or informed about them, but these are positions that will have a lot of influence over critical issues in the coming yeard, including zoning, casino, and health care lawsuits, and the critical legislative districting that occurs in 2010. Thus, it's important to have a good representative (and qualified) group there. Right now the Supreme Court is overwhelmingly Republican, and overwhelmingly from the western part of the state, and this year's slate offers good options to change that.
Second, if you live in the 8th Council District (Germantown and surrounds), you have a chance to replace the divisive Donna Reed Miller with a proven community leader (a Democrat running as an Independent), Jesse Brown
-- don't miss the chance.
Elsewhere on the ballot, I'm pretty much happy about the Democratic ticket, from Mayor down to the row offices, with the following exceptions:
- For Municipal Court, do NOT vote for Frazier-Lyde, who was not recommended by the Bar. (This is probably a futile effort, given widespread ticket voting, but you can only do your part.)
- For Sheriff, it pains me to see Green still on the ballot (see prev. here). Sigh. I know nothing about his obscure Independent opponent, however.
- For Council At-Large, while I don't want to point to a particular Democratic nominee to skip (they all have their merits), I'd like to encourage folks to consider sparing one vote for David Oh, who is running for one of the two guaranteed Republican seats. He's not a perfect candidate, but appears to have much to recommend him over Jack Kelley, and would likely support at least some of the ideas favored by Nutter and other reformers.
There are two other main sections of the ballot (which is blissfully shorter than that faced by voters in May):
- Ballot Questions (see here for plain English versions)
- Yes on #1, but I don't feel strongly. The idea is to prevent somebody from running for a District seat in an area where they don't live (and moving there afterwards), which seems a reasonable requirement, although I suspect the voters would hold their non-residency against them anyway.
- No on #2 & 3. I find the Committee of Seventy's recommendations persuasive here -- there are already groups to advocate for each of these populations, and it sets a bad (and expensive) precedent for other special interest groups.
- No recommendation on #4. I certainly support all the programs that would be funded by this bond issue, but continue to be perplexed as to why such capital programs are continually being funded via new debt rather than as part of the ongoing budget process (which currently claims a surplus). This may be a part of How The City Functions that just remains opaque to me.
- Judicial retention
This takes up a huge L-shaped swath to the right of and below the other parts of the ballot, and unlike the initial judicial elections, there is no party lever or other shortcut -- each judge must be voted Yes or No individually. I generally think that Clean Sweep's idea of getting rid of everybody is misguided -- there's no reason to think that the replacements would be better, and there would likely be all sorts of back-room dealing along the way. Instead, I recommend YES for all judges except the following:
- NO on Municipal Court judges Daher, Griffin, and Deni. (The first two were not recommended by the Bar, and the last was behind a controversial recent ruling in which she apparently substituted her personal judgement for the legal statutes and definitions.)
- You might also consider a NO on Supreme Court Justice Saylor, who is being targeted by the anti-casino activists and some of their allies because of his restrictive rulings on the issue. I don't know enough of the remainder of his record to advocate this stance, however.
That's it! It's a shortie in many ways, but also offers some great new faces, from Nutter through the fantastic candidates for Common Pleas Court, so we can look forward to some good things in January, however the rest of the ballot plays out. Don't forget to vote!!