City Councilman Frank Rizzo’s participation in the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan led to his resounding defeat last week, while a handful of Northeast ward leaders disgruntled for one reason or another with Marge Tartaglione helped contribute to the veteran city election commissioner’s narrow loss.
Meanwhile, another longtime commissioner, Joe Duda, is facing what appears to be a very difficult re-election bid.
While several Council members enrolled in DROP retired rather than face an angry electorate, Rizzo decided to run for a fifth four-year term.
The Republican City Committee did not endorse him, but he maintained support from some wards across the city. A couple of polls showed him at or near the top of the nine-man race for five nominations for Council at-large seats.
Adding in his name recognition — he’s the son of the late Mayor Frank L. Rizzo — and his office’s solid reputation for con-
stituent services, and most observers figured he’d advance to the general election.
Instead, he finished a distant seventh. The GOP nominees are, in order of finish, David Oh, Dennis O’Brien, Joe McColgan, Al Taubenberger and Michael Untermeyer.
Oh, McColgan and Taubenberger enjoyed party support. Malcolm Lazin, the other endorsed candidate, finished a close sixth.
On the Democratic side, the incumbents were all re-nominated. They are, in order of finish, Blondell Reynolds Brown, Bill Green, Bill Greenlee, Wilson Goode Jr. and Jim Kenney.
In the general election, the top seven finishers win seats. Because Democrats have a huge voter-registration advantage, they are almost certain to capture five seats, leaving two to the GOP. The city charter reserves two seats for the minority party, which has been the Republicans for 60 years.
Oh, a lawyer and ward leader from Southwest Philadelphia, and O’Brien, a veteran state representative and former House speaker from Millbrook, far outpaced the Republican pack and appear to be strong favorites to prevail in the fall. O’Brien celebrated at Rosewood Caterers.
The names will appear on the November ballot in order of finish.
Still, the other candidates are hopeful. “It’s a whole new race,” said Taubenberger, a Fox Chase resident and longtime president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
The theory was that, if Rizzo won re-nomination, he’d be impossible to beat in the general election because of his citywide connections with Democrats.
“There are two open seats now,” said Taubenberger, noting that Councilman Jack Kelly is retiring.
Taubenberger, Republican leader of the 56th Ward, watched vote totals come in at the Loudenslager American Legion Post on Oxford Avenue.
McColgan, a Torresdale resident, celebrated at SmokeEaters Pub. He said voters made it clear that they want new voices and ideas. He believes the city lacks leadership and vision.
“We can’t expect the same career politicians who created our problems to get us out of them,” he said. “Over the coming months, I will continue to share my ideas about job creation and education reform to make sure that the next generation has more opportunities and stronger communities.”
While incumbent Democrats prevailed citywide, many Northeast voters preferred a couple of challengers. The leading vote-getters in the 14 local wards were, in order, Green, Kenney, Greenlee, Sherrie Cohen and Reynolds Brown. Andy Toy was a close sixth, and Goode was a distant seventh.
Green, who is expected to run for mayor in 2015, won 11 Northeast wards. Greenlee took two and Kenney one.
Kenney finished only about 1,600 votes ahead of Cohen across the city. It is believed he suffered at the polls because of his call to eliminate DROP for all city workers.
Finishing a distant last in the 14-person Democratic race was Janis Manson, a psychotherapist from Rhawnhurst. There hasn’t been a Democratic at-large Council member from the Northeast since 1975.
That’s the year Tartaglione, of Oxford Circle, was elected commissioner, but she’ll be leaving office at the end of this year after finishing third in a seven-way Democratic race for two nominations.
Tartaglione, Democratic leader of the 62nd Ward, was enrolled in DROP, but ran for re-election in 2007, winning easily. She then “retired” for a day just to collect $288,000 in DROP money, then returned to work. She decided to run again this year, and most pundits figured she’d win.
However, challenger Stephanie Singer raised a lot of money and blasted Tartaglione’s participation in DROP in multiple mailings. Singer easily finished first in the primary.
Anthony Clark, a somewhat obscure one-term commissioner, edged Tartaglione for the second spot.
Tartaglione joined daughters Renee and Tina and 62nd Ward committee people at Wissinoming Boys Club.
The commissioner watched vote totals on a laptop computer showing her taking an early lead, followed by Clark and Singer. Soon, Singer overtook Clark for second place, then topped Tartaglione. Eventually, Clark passed his fellow incumbent and went on to nip her by 1,012 votes.
Tartaglione won eight of the 14 local wards and finished second in three others. She won in the 23rd Ward, even though leader Dan Savage refused to carry her name on the sample ballot because of her participation in DROP.
However, she finished fourth in the 58th Ward, headed by state Sen. Mike Stack. He didn’t endorse her. In recent Senate Democratic leadership elections, Tina Tartaglione did not support Stack.
Commissioner Tartaglione also placed fourth in the 41st Ward. New leader Connie Rodgers is a Stack aide.
Tartaglione took third in the 56th Ward, headed by John Sabatina. He is an ally of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, which was angry at Tartaglione for supporting Marty Bednarek over Local 98 political director Bobby Henon in the 6th Councilmanic District.
In the Republican primary for commissioner, Duda edged Al Schmidt for first place by 110 votes. Marie Delany, who was endorsed by the party, finished 1,600 votes behind Schmidt, a reform advocate who would seem to have the edge on Duda as they reach out to Democratic voters in the fall campaign.
In the mayoral race, party-endorsed Karen Brown, a retired teacher from South Philadelphia, won the Republican nomination by just 57 votes over Realtor John Featherman, of Chinatown. She’s the first woman to be nominated for mayor by one of the two major parties.
Mayor Michael Nutter won 76 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, but former state Sen. Milton Street surprised many by taking 24 percent. Street was released from prison last year after serving 26 months for failing to file federal tax returns for three years. Nutter even sent a negative mailing about Street — who had little campaign money — to Democratic voters.
In other races, Mark Squilla easily defeated Joe Grace, Jeff Hornstein and Vern Anastasio in the Democratic primary in the 1st Councilmanic District. The district includes a small portion of Frankford and Wissinoming. There was no Republican on the ballot.
In the 5th Councilmanic District, incumbent Darrell Clarke handily beat Suzanne Carn in the Democratic primary. No Republican filed. Clarke is expected to seek the Council presidency.
In the 9th Councilmanic District, incumbent Marian Tasco was not affected by her participation in DROP. She won 63 percent of the vote against Lamont Thomas and Bobby Curry. No Republican filed. Tasco will likely vie for Council president.
In the Democratic primary for sheriff, Jewell Williams defeated John Kromer and Jacque Whaumbush. He will face Republican Joshua West and the Green Party’s Cheri Honkala in the fall.
In the Democratic primary for Traffic Court, 53rd Ward leader Christine Solomon easily topped a 12-candidate field. A Castor Gardens resident, Solomon was listed first on the ballot and had the party nod. She’ll be heavily favored in the general election.
For Municipal Court, Democrats nominated Marvin Williams, meaning he’s all but certain to be elected in November.
In the Democratic primary for 10 Common Pleas Court seats, the winners were Sean Kennedy, Angelo Foglietta, Diana Anhalt, Maria McLaughlin, Barbara McDermott, Jonathan Irvine, Charles Ehrlich, Vincent Johnson, Edward Wright and Carolyn Nichols.
Among those who lost was West Torresdale’s Michael Fanning, who placed 16th among 35 candidates despite the party endorsement. He was originally endorsed for Municipal Court, but Williams ultimately got the nod and a much clearer path to victory.
Statewide, Vic Stabile won the Republican nomination for Superior Court and the right to face Democrat David Wecht, who was unopposed.
Anne Covey easily won the Republican nomination for Commonwealth Court and will face Kathryn Boockvar, who edged Barbara Behrend Ernsberger by less than 3,300 votes in the Democratic primary. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org