Bid for slot on elections panel heats up

In the race for city elec­tions com­mis­sion­er, voters get to make two choices.

Mar­ie Delany, who lost the Re­pub­lic­an primary last month, will use only one of her two votes.

“I’m just go­ing to vote for Al Schmidt,” she said.

Delany is ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of Over­ing­ton House, a fa­cil­ity for home­less wo­men with chil­dren in Frank­ford. She star­ted the year run­ning for an at-large City Coun­cil seat.

However, Dav­id Oh made a late surge to se­cure the fifth and fi­nal en­dorse­ment by the Re­pub­lic­an City Com­mit­tee.

Then, Delany dropped her Coun­cil bid and entered the race for com­mis­sion­er, where she was joined by Schmidt, James Mug­ford and in­cum­bent Joe Duda.

Duda and Mug­ford were en­dorsed by the GOP, which shunned Schmidt, who is part of a re­form move­ment with­in the party.

When bal­lot po­s­i­tions were drawn, the or­der was Duda, Delany, Schmidt and Mug­ford. In an ef­fort to stop Schmidt, Mug­ford dropped out, and the party threw its sup­port be­hind Delany.

Non­ethe­less, Schmidt ran a well-fun­ded, well-ex­ecuted cam­paign, fin­ish­ing just 110 votes be­hind Duda. Delany was third.

“I would have loved for it to be Al and I,” Delany said.

While Duda and Delany made up the en­dorsed tick­et, she didn’t do so well in the Far North­east’s 66th Ward, where Duda is the Re­pub­lic­an lead­er. Duda led the way with 1,522 votes, fol­lowed by Schmidt with 955 and Delany with 749.

The Demo­crats nom­in­ated in­cum­bent An­thony Clark and Stephanie Sing­er, who knocked out nine-term in­cum­bent Marge Tartagli­one.

The Green Party is ex­pec­ted to nom­in­ate Rich­ie An­ti­puna.

The two Demo­crats are vir­tu­al shoo-ins be­cause of their party’s large voter-re­gis­tra­tion ad­vant­age. Duda and Schmidt will look for sup­port from Demo­crats and in­de­pend­ents to earn the third spot. The city charter re­serves one seat on the three-mem­ber com­mis­sion for the minor­ity party, which for 60 years has been the Re­pub­lic­ans.

Look­ing ahead to the gen­er­al elec­tion, Delany sees Schmidt as the can­did­ate who would make the of­fice more trans­par­ent. She also be­lieves he can help lead a re­viv­al of the loc­al Re­pub­lic­an Party.

“I prefer his policies,” she said. “He’s done his home­work. He’s hungry.”

• • •

Joe Mc­Col­gan, a Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate for an at-large Coun­cil seat, ad­dressed Coun­cil dur­ing its June 23 ses­sion.

Mc­Col­gan urged mem­bers to vote against any tax in­creases, and he re­newed his call for the resig­na­tion of Ar­lene Ack­er­man, su­per­in­tend­ent of the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia.

The can­did­ate wants to dis­solve the School Re­form Com­mis­sion and move to an elec­ted school board.

“Stop us­ing our chil­dren as pawns and polit­ic­al cur­rency to ad­vance a failed busi­ness mod­el, vote against this tax in­crease this af­ter­noon, post­pone your sum­mer re­cess — stay in ses­sion — and find a long-term solu­tion to our edu­ca­tion night­mare,” he said.

“When our chil­dren are fail­ing, we ask them to work harder and stay longer. Why should this City Coun­cil be any dif­fer­ent?”

Coun­cil ig­nored Mc­Col­gan’s plea and passed a budget that in­cludes tax in­creases, among them a 3.85 per­cent hike in prop­erty taxes.

Those vot­ing for high­er prop­erty taxes were Curtis Jones, Dar­rell Clarke, Maria Quinones-Sanc­hez, Donna Reed Miller, Mari­an Tasco, Wilson Goode Jr., Blondell Reyn­olds Brown, Jim Ken­ney, Bill Green­lee, Bill Green and Jack Kelly.

Vot­ing against the prop­erty tax in­crease were Frank Di­Cicco, Anna Ver­na, Jan­nie Black­well, Joan Kra­jew­ski, Bri­an O’Neill and Frank Rizzo.

• • •

Also last week, May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter ve­toed a bill that changes — but pre­serves — the con­tro­ver­sial De­ferred Re­tire­ment Op­tion Plan.

Coun­cil voted 14-3 to keep DROP, but with modi­fic­a­tions that would make it less costly.

Nut­ter, though, wants to elim­in­ate the pro­gram al­to­geth­er be­cause of its cost.

Coun­cil will likely over­ride the veto when it re­turns to work in Septem­ber after its three-month sum­mer re­cess.

Among those vot­ing to keep DROP, a re­tire­ment-in­cent­ive plan for city em­ploy­ees, was Bri­an O’Neill (R-10th dist.).

His Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ent in the Novem­ber elec­tion, Bill Ru­bin, notes that the in­cum­bent would be eli­gible for about $500,000 in DROP money if he is re-elec­ted and later re­tires.

Ru­bin is ask­ing O’Neill to sign a waiver form spe­cify­ing that he will not join DROP and sub­mit it to the Phil­adelphia Board of Pen­sions and Re­tire­ment.

O’Neill said the form is faulty be­cause it ap­plies only to cur­rent DROP en­rollees and their be­ne­fi­ciar­ies, adding that the pen­sion board would not ac­cept the doc­u­ment even if he signed it.

“I’m nev­er go­ing to en­roll in DROP,” O’Neill said. “End of story. I don’t know how many times I can say it.”

Ru­bin has poin­ted out that O’Neill signed a DROP ap­plic­a­tion form on Nov. 30, 2007. O’Neill, though, said the pen­sion board told him the form was non-bind­ing, adding that he signed it be­cause it was a way to get a com­plete prin­tout of his be­ne­fits. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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