May 21, 2019
Today is Primary Day in Pennsylvania.
Polls are open until 8 p.m. Anybody in line by then must be allowed to vote. You can find your polling place here. Report issues or problems encountered at the polling place to the Philadelphia County Board of Elections at 215-686-1590.
Voters in Montgomery County may want to give themselves extra time on Tuesday as they will encounter new voting machines. There is an instructional video – on the county website – worth watching before heading to the polls.
There are two high-profile contests in Philadelphia – for the Democratic nominations for mayor and City Council – plus four ballot questions.
Only registered Democrats or Republicans are eligible to vote for candidates in the May primary. But all voters, regardless of party affiliation, may vote on ballot questions.
One statewide office will appear on ballots: Judge of the Superior Court.
As you head out to vote, here's a rundown of what to expect in Philadelphia, as well as Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties:
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney faces two Democratic challengers – state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and former city controller Alan Butkovitz – in his bid for re-election to a second term. (On the Republican side, Billy Ciancaglini is uncontested.)
Kenney was elected four years ago and has worked to make good on his promise to improve city neighborhoods. He managed to get a soda tax passed to fund universal pre-K, community schools and rehabilitation of parks, rec centers and playgrounds. But that big achievement has raised the ire of many critics and all of his challengers oppose the tax. His other priorities include a safe site to allow drug users to inject under medical supervision in an effort to stem the tide of opioid overdoses, though Kenney tapped the brakes recently on a proposal to locate the first one in the drug-addled Kensington neighborhood.
Williams is a longtime state senator in the 8th District, representing parts of West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia and Delaware County. (In 2015, he finished second behind Kenney in the mayoral election.) Williams opposes both the soda tax and safe-injection sites, and has said he would end stop-and-frisk by Philadelphia police. The Democratic whip in Harrisburg, he says he would be a better advocate for the city in the state capital.
Butkovitz was the city controller in Philadelphia since 2005 before his surprise loss to Rebecca Rhynhart in the 2017 election. A vocal foe of the soda tax and safe-injection sites, he also says he would get rid of stop-and-frisk. He has been aggressive in his criticism of Kenney.
All 17 City Council seats – 10 district, 7 at-large – are on the ballot, with competitive races in five districts.
There are contests for five district seats.
In the 1st Council District, which stretches along the Delaware River from South Philadelphia across Center City, Chinatown, and the River Wards, incumbent Democrat Mark Squilla is challenged by Democrat Lou Lanni, an openly gay Philadelphia police officer.
In the 2nd Council District, which includes parts of Center City, South Philadelphia as well as Point Breeze, Democratic incumbent Kenyatta Johnson is challenged by Lauren Vidas, a former lobbyist and aide to former Councilman Bill Green and assistant finance director to former Mayor Michael Nutter. (Republican Michael Bradley is unopposed.)
In the 3rd Council District, which includes parts of West Philadelphia and Southwest Philadelphia, incumbent Democrat Jannie Blackwell is contested by Jamie Gauthier, an urban planner and former executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy.
In the 4th Council District, which includes parts of Northwest Philadelphia and West Philadelphia, incumbent Curtis Jones is opposed by Ron Adams, a Roxborough resident and operations manager for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.
In the 7th Council District, which includes parts of North Philadelphia, including Hunting Park and Frankford, incumbent Democrat Maria Quiñones-Sánchez is challenged by state Rep. Angel Cruz, a ward leader who has long battled the councilwoman.
Five incumbents – Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilmembers Bobby Henon, Cindy Bass, Cherelle Parker, all Democrats, and Republican Councilman Brian O'Neill – are unopposed.
Three Democratic incumbents – Helen Gym, Allan Domb and Derek Green – are seeking re-election, with a field of 25 challengers. (Councilmembers Blondell Reynolds Brown and William K. Greenlee did not seek reelection.) On the ballot are Fareed Abdullah, Wayne Allen, Erika Almirón, Deja Lynn Alvarez, Ethelind Baylor, Vinny Black, Latrice Bryant, Devon Cade, Bobbie Curry, Justin DiBerardinis, Joseph Diorio, Wayne Edmund Dorsey, Beth Finn, Sandra Dungee Glenn, Ogbonna "Paul" Hagins, Asa Khalif, Adrian Rivera Reyes, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Mark Ross, Eryn Santamoor, Edwin Santana, Isaiah Thomas, Billy Thompson, Fernando Treviño and Hena Veit.
On the Republican side, incumbents Al Taubenberger and David Oh are seeking re-election. A field of five challengers are in the mix. They are Irina Goldstein, Bill Heeney, Drew Murray, Dan Tinney and Matt Wolfe.
Voters also will nominate candidates for City Commission, sheriff and register of wills, as well as judgeships on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court.
Four questions will appear on city ballots. All voters can vote "Yes" or "No" on the following:
#1. Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to change certain gender specific references (such as “councilman,” “councilmen,” and “Councilmanic”) to gender neutral references (such as “councilmember,” “councilmembers,” and “Council”)?
“Yes” means you want to change the Charter so that the people who serve on City Council will be identified in gender neutral terms.
2. Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, headed by a Director of Immigrant Affairs?
“Yes” means you want to change the Charter to formally and permanently create an Office of Immigrant Affairs. The office would: develop city policies on issues affecting immigrant communities; help city agencies make it easier for non-English speakers to use city services; work to make sure that immigrants are treated fairly by all city agencies and employees; and serve as a link between the city and its immigrant communities. The office was first established by former Mayor Michael Nutter by executive order and remains open under the Kenney Administration.
3. Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call on the General Assembly to either increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage now, so that it reaches $15 an hour, in stages, by 2025; or allow the City of Philadelphia to itself provide for a decent, family sustaining, living wage for working Philadelphians?
"Yes" means that you would like to ask the State Government to do one of two things: either raise the minimum wage for the whole State, or allow Philadelphia to raise the minimum wage in the city. The goal would be to raise the wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, over the next six years.
4. Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to require the establishment of “Public Safety Enforcement Officers” to assist the Police Department in regulating the flow of traffic; to enforce and assist the appropriate City officers in the enforcement of ordinances relating to the quality of life in the City’s neighborhoods; and to perform such other related duties as the Managing Director or Council may require?
“Yes” means you want to change the Charter to allow the city to hire “Public Safety Enforcement Officers," a new job classification. The officers would help police with traffic control where busy intersections are blocked and elsewhere, and enforce laws relating to the quality of life in city neighborhoods. They would not have the power to arrest people or carry guns. According to the Charter, officials who work for the Mayor decide how many people should be hired in their departments. If the ballot question passes, the Mayor’s Managing Director or City Council could decide how many Public Safety Enforcement Officers should be hired. The Managing Director would decide in which departments these officers will work.
In Bucks County, registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in the primary for the three seats on the County Commission, clerk of courts, coroner, register of wills, treasurer and as well as judgeships on the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas and Magisterial District Courts. In addition, candidates for municipal offices and local school boards are on the ballot.
In Chester County, Democrats and Republicans who are registered can vote in the primary elections for the three seats on the County Commission, district attorney, prothonotary, recorder of deeds, register of wills, sheriff and judgeships on the Chester County Court of Common Pleas and Magisterial District Courts. There are ballot questions in some municipalities, plus races for municipal offices and school boards.
Unaffiliated and third party voters also can vote on the ballot referendum questions in Franklin and West Marlborough townships:
• FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP: Do you favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in the Township of Franklin?
• WEST MARLBOROUGH TOWNSHIP: Do you favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in the Township of West Marlborough of Chester County?
In Delaware County, registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in the primary for three of five seats on the County Council, plus district attorney and judgeships on the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas and Magisterial District Courts. Also, there are races for municipal offices and school boards.
Unaffiliated and third-party voters also can vote on the following ballot questions in Aldan and Lansdowne boroughs, and Marple and Middletown townships:
• ALDAN BOROUGH: Do you favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in Aldan Borough of Delaware County?
• LANSDOWNE BOROUGH: Do you favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in the Borough of Lansdowne?
• MARPLE TOWNSHIP: Do you favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in Marple Township of Delaware County?
• MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP: Shall Middletown Township, Delaware County, incur electoral debt in the sum of $8 million for the purpose of financing the purchase of +/- 80.992 acres of land, more or less, at the northwest corner of Forge Road and Valley Road, for active and passive recreational purposes and to preserve open space for the citizens of Middletown Township, and for paying related costs, including but not limited to bond closing costs, legal expenses, appraisals, surveys and settlement costs?
In Montgomery County, registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in the primary election for all three seats on the county commission. Other offices on the ballot include district attorney, clerk of courts, controller, coroner, prothonotary, recorder of deeds, register of wills, sheriff and treasurer, as well as judgeships on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas and Magisterial District Courts. There are also races for races for municipal offices and school boards.
Unaffiliated and third party voters also can vote on the following ballot question in Hatboro Borough:
HATBORO BOROUGH: Shall the Borough of Hatboro establish a Special Library Tax to provide for the maintenance of and aid to Union Library Company of Hatborough at the rate of .55 mills on the dollar on all taxable real estate within the Borough of Hatboro? Yes or No
The following candidates are running for seats on Pennsylvania Superior Court. The candidate ratings are by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, which conducts background checks and interviews the candidates:
Amanda Green-Hawkins, Allegheny County – Not recommended
Megan Lee King, Chester County – Recommended
Daniel McCaffery, Philadelphia County – Highly recommended
Christylee L. Peck, Cumberland County – Recommended
Elizabeth M. Tarasi, Allegheny County – Not recommended
Rebecca L. Warren, Luzerne County – Not recommended (for failure to participate)
Two judges – Anne Lazarus and Judith F. Olson – are seeking retention.
Two judges – Kevin Brobson and Patricia McCullough – are seeking retention.
Bucks County: The judicial candidates are Denise Bowman, Dawn Burke, Grace Deon, Gary Gambardella, Charissa Liller, Dianne Magee, Christopher Serpico, Allen Toadvine, Jessica VanderKam and Jordan Yeager. The Bucks County Bar Association's evaluations of the candidates can be found here.
Four judges – Robert Baldi, Wallace Bateman, Gary Gilman and Alan Rubenstein – are seeking retention. Bar association endorsements can be found here.
Chester County: The judicial candidates are Bret Binder, Andrea Cardamone, Chuck Gaza, Dan Maisano, Tip McCabe and Analisa Sondergaard.
William P. Mahon is seeking retention.
Delaware County: The judicial candidates are George Dawson, Jennifer DiPillo, Kelly Eckel, Mike Farrell, Steven Gerber, Stephanie Klein, Rick Lowe, Beth Naughton Beck, Nusrat Rashid, Wendy Roberts and Deborah Truscello.
Linda A. Cartisano is seeking retention.
Montgomery County: Melissa Schwartz Sterling, Henry Hilles III, Matthew Hovey, Gregg Richman, Virgil Walker and Robert Zigmund.
Seven judges – Carolyn Tornetta Carluccio, Patricia E. Coonahan, Wendy Demchick-Alloy, Lois Murphy, Garrett D. Page, Gary Steven Silow and Kelly C. Wall – are seeking retention.
Philadelphia County: The following candidates are running for seats on the Court of Common Pleas. Candidate ratings are by the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Wendi Barish – Recommended
James Berardinelli – Recommended
Terri Booker – Not recommended
James Crumlish III – Highly recommended
Laurie Dow – Recommended
Leon Goodman – Recommended
Beth Grossman – Recommended
Christopher Hall – Highly recommended
Carmella Jacquinto – Recommended
Anthony Kyriakakis – Highly recommended
Craig Levin – Recommended
Vickie Markovitz – Recommended
Jonelle Marshall – Not recommended
Cateria McCabe – Recommended
Kendra McCrae – Recommended
Janine Momasso – Not recommended
Tiffany Palmer – Highly recommended
Joshua Roberts – Recommended
Jennifer Schultz – Recommended
Nicola Serianni – Recommended
Henry Sias – Recommended
Sherman Toppin – Not recommended
Robert Trimble– Not recommended
Gregory Weyer – Not recommended
Kay Yu – Recommended
Eleven judges – Daniel J. Anders, Sandy L. V. Byrd, Ida K. Chen, Robert P. Coleman, Roxanne E. Covington, Richard J. Gordon, Glynnis D. Hill, Karen Shreeves-Johns, Diane R. Thompson, Donna M. Woelpper and Sheila A. Woods-Skipper – are seeking retention.
The forecast from the National Weather Service calls for great voting weather in the region: sunny skies, with a high near 75.