Politics Courts
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February 24, 2017

Too few flushes get Philly Democrat kicked off ballot

The Democrat picked to run for convicted state Rep. Leslie Acosta's seat in the state Legislature has been kicked off the ballot by a Commonwealth Court judge.

Freddie Ramirez, who was chosen as the Democratic nominee for a March special election to represent the 197th District, was removed after Judge Anne Covey ruled in favor of a Republican challenge to Ramirez's compliance with a residency requirement.

The judge found that low water and electric use at the house Ramirez claimed as his residence showed he really didn't live in the district. From March through January he was billed for 95 gallons of water — which is less than two toilet flushes a month.

Ramirez' attorney says the number is misleading because of how bills are calculated.

The 197th Legislative District covers a scattered portion of North Philadelphia, including Hunting Park. Ramirez runs several mental health clinics in the district and owns a residency in Hunting Park but testified that he splits time between an apartment in Roxborough, his girlfriend's apartment in Bucks County and a few weeks a year in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Covey wrote in her decision that Ramirez only visits his Hunting Park home because it's close to his busiest clinic, Philly Weekly reported.

A Democratic attorney told the newspaper they were "disappointed" in the decision and that the party was reviewing its options. Philadelinquency reports that an appeal is likely; however, Philly Weekly reports Democrats may put up another candidate instead because the election is coming up soon. The vote is scheduled for March 21.

The seat was vacated when Acosta resigned in January. She pleaded guilty to a felony charge in 2015 for her role in an embezzlement scheme but ran unopposed in 2016.

Republican newcomer Lucinda Little and Green Party candidate Cheri Honkala are also running for the seat. Honkala, who was the party's candidate for vice president in 2012, won't be on the ballot because the party filed paperwork a day late. She's trying to win the seat now as a write-in candidate.

The Associated Press contributed to his report.