Northeast Times

In at-large race, the Oh factor prevails

Law­yer Dav­id Oh came oh so close to vic­tory in his pre­vi­ous bids for City Coun­cil. This time around, he cap­tures the prize.

Al Tauben­ber­ger seemed on the verge of win­ning an at-large City Coun­cil seat in the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

There were 11 can­did­ates for sev­en seats. The five Demo­crat­ic in­cum­bents — Bill Green, Jim Ken­ney, Blondell Reyn­olds Brown, Wilson Goode Jr. and Bill Green­lee — were easy win­ners, since so many people simply push the straight Demo­crat­ic but­ton and walk out of the vot­ing booth.

Den­nis O’Bri­en eas­ily led his fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans and in­de­pend­ent Richard John­son for the sixth seat.

Tauben­ber­ger, pres­id­ent of the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce, was the fourth Re­pub­lic­an lis­ted on the bal­lot, based on his show­ing in the primary last May. Dav­id Oh, a law­yer and ward lead­er from South­w­est Phil­adelphia, was the lead­ing vote-get­ter in the primary, but in the sum­mer began to face ac­cus­a­tions of ex­ag­ger­at­ing his mil­it­ary re­cord.

For much of elec­tion night, Tauben­ber­ger held a lead of 1,000-plus votes over Oh. He out­polled Oh in each of the 14 wards in the North­east, pil­ing up a mar­gin of more than 6,400.

However, Oh was stronger in most of the rest of the city, where the votes gen­er­ally are coun­ted later in the even­ing. Ul­ti­mately, Oh pulled ahead by more than 100 votes.

Tauben­ber­ger, with a weak voice, ad­dressed sup­port­ers at the Cot­tage Green at about 11:10 p.m., with a few dozen di­vi­sions not re­port­ing.

“This thing is really not over,” he said. “Ab­sent­ee bal­lots have not been coun­ted. This fight is cer­tainly not over. We have to look at everything.”

By Monday night, however, the fight ap­peared over. Oh led by 165 votes on the ma­chines and picked up a net of three more votes when ab­sent­ee bal­lots were coun­ted. More than 750 pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots were to be coun­ted on Tues­day, but they failed to boost Tauben­ber­ger past Oh.

By Tues­day af­ter­noon, after a check of the pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots with Oh and Tauben­ber­ger present, Tauben­ber­ger con­ceded the race and con­grat­u­lated Oh.

• • •

In his elec­tion-night ad­dress, Tauben­ber­ger thanked cam­paign work­ers Chris Wright and Lou Fein­berg and Team­sters Loc­al Uni­on 830 busi­ness man­ager Danny Grace. The can­did­ate vowed to con­tin­ue fight­ing with Grace to op­pose a sug­ary drink tax backed pre­vi­ously by May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter.

“I felt really great for a while, be­ing up four­teen-hun­dred,” Tauben­ber­ger said later in the night as he sat down for a meal.

The crowd in­cluded two people who’ve won elec­tions thanks to ab­sent­ee bal­lots. In 2000, then-state Rep. John Perzel came back to de­feat Demo­crat­ic chal­lenger Mark Chilutti. In 2007, now-out­go­ing Coun­cil­man Jack Kelly made up a de­fi­cit against Oh.

This time, though, Oh had the votes to be­come the first Asi­an-Amer­ic­an coun­cil­man.

Ac­cord­ing to the latest tal­lies from the city com­mis­sion­ers’ of­fice, Oh was lead­ing  Tauben­ber­ger by 165 votes with one di­vi­sion still not re­port­ing as the Times went to press. 

In the North­east, Tauben­ber­ger won the 63rd Ward. O’Bri­en won the 57th, 58th, 64th and 66th wards and re­ceived the most votes of any at-large can­did­ate in the North­east. Green won the 23rd, 35th, 41st, 53rd, 54th, 55th, 56th, 62nd and 65th wards.

ldquo;I’m very proud of the race I ran,” Tauben­ber­ger said. “I really came out strong in the North­east. My neigh­bor­hood really came out and sup­por­ted me over­whelm­ingly. I’m honored to get so many votes out of North­east Phil­adelphia.”

• • •

Mean­while, Al Schmidt eas­ily de­feated in­cum­bent and fel­low Re­pub­lic­an Joe Duda for the third and fi­nal city com­mis­sion­ers spot. Demo­crats Stephanie Sing­er and in­cum­bent An­thony Clark were easy win­ners.

Schmidt will likely sup­port Sing­er, who toppled nine-term in­cum­bent and chair­wo­man Marge Tartagli­one in the primary, as the next chair of the pan­el.

Though he was the chal­lenger, Schmidt was ex­pec­ted to beat Duda be­cause of his ex­haust­ive cam­paign sched­ule.

Re­pub­lic­an City Com­mit­tee gen­er­al coun­sel Mike Mee­han said he was dis­ap­poin­ted in Duda’s loss. Schmidt is the in­form­al lead­er of a group that has been look­ing to over­throw Mee­han and chair­man Vito Canuso.

“Schmidt ran a good cam­paign,” Mee­han said.

In oth­er city races, May­or Nut­ter won an­oth­er four-year term with just un­der 75 per­cent. Re­pub­lic­an Kar­en Brown had al­most 22 per­cent and did much bet­ter in North­east wards. In­de­pend­ent Wali Rah­man re­ceived un­der 4 per­cent.

In a vic­tory speech at the Ra­dis­son-War­wick Hotel, Nut­ter’s theme was, “We’re not done yet.” His fo­cus in the next four years will be crime, poverty, jobs and edu­ca­tion.

“To­night is not a time for sat­is­fac­tion, but im­pa­tience, rest­less­ness, an ur­gency, a bold­ness … a de­term­in­a­tion to push for­ward and build on the found­a­tions we have laid,” he said.

Demo­crat Jew­ell Wil­li­ams, a state rep­res­ent­at­ive from North Phil­adelphia, will be Phil­adelphia’s next sher­iff. He won al­most 75 per­cent of the vote. Re­pub­lic­an Joshua West took about 19 per­cent, win­ning in the 57th, 58th, 63rd, 64th and 66th wards. The Green Party’s Cheri Honkala, a long­time af­ford­able-hous­ing act­iv­ist, claimed about 7 per­cent.

Demo­crat Ron Donatucci eas­ily won an­oth­er term as re­gister of wills des­pite be­ing en­rolled in the con­tro­ver­sial De­ferred Re­tire­ment Op­tion Plan. He de­feated Re­pub­lic­an Linda W. Bate­man with 77 per­cent of the vote. Bate­man car­ried the 58th, 63rd and 66th wards.

In statewide races, the parties split two races. Demo­crat Dav­id Wecht took 54.6 per­cent to de­feat Re­pub­lic­an Vic Sta­bile for a seat on Su­per­i­or Court. Re­pub­lic­an Anne Covey re­ceived 52.4 per­cent to beat Demo­crat Kath­ryn Boock­var in the race for Com­mon­wealth Court.

In Phil­adelphia, voters se­lec­ted 11 Demo­crats for Com­mon Pleas Court and two Demo­crats who were run­ning un­op­posed for Mu­ni­cip­al Court.

Christine So­lomon, a Castor Gar­dens res­id­ent and long­time Demo­crat­ic lead­er of the 53rd Ward, won 82 per­cent of the vote to beat Re­pub­lic­an Lewis Har­ris in the race for a seat on Traffic Court. Voters also ap­proved new terms for all judges up for re­ten­tion at the city and state levels.

Phil­adelphi­ans also OK’d a bond ques­tion al­low­ing the city to bor­row more than $111 mil­lion for cap­it­al pur­poses and ap­proved a change in the Home Rule Charter to cre­ate a rainy day fund. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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