The Congregations of Shaare Shamayim men’s club held its annual “Meet the Candidates Brunch” on Sunday morning at the synagogue, 9768 Verree Road.
Former state Sen. Bob Rovner was the emcee.
The candidates in attendance were David Wecht and Kathryn Boockvar, the Democratic candidates for Superior Court and Commonwealth Court, respectively; City Councilman Brian O’Neill and Democratic challenger Bill Rubin; City Commissioner Joe Duda and challenger Al Schmidt; Democratic City Councilmen Jim Kenney and Bill Green and Republican challengers David Oh, Denny O’Brien, Michael Untermeyer, Joe McColgan and Al Taubenberger; Common Pleas Court candidates Anne Marie Coyle and Barbara McDermott; and Traffic Court candidate Lewis Harris.
Also, state Rep. Mark Cohen urged a “yes” vote for his brother Denis, a Common Pleas Court judge seeking retention.
Mayoral candidate Wali Rahman sent a representative.
Green, elected in 2007, doesn’t plan a career in council.
“This is my last term as a city councilman,” he said of the term that will begin in January. “When I run in four years, most likely I will run for mayor of the city of Philadelphia.”
Untermeyer described City Council as “asleep.” Kenney took offense, pointing to reforms to campaign finance laws, among other things.
Schmidt noted that his endorsements range from U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey to former Gov. Ed Rendell.
Taubenberger, president of the Burholme Community Town Watch and Civic Association, bashed Oh, an attorney, for representing the former Purple Orchid go-go bar in its effort to reopen following the arrest of a manager on drug charges.
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The Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans, Philadelphians for Ethical Leadership and the 5th Ward Republican Committee sponsored three debates on Oct. 19 at the Veteran Boxers Association Ring 1 bar in Port Richmond.
In the race for sheriff, Republican Joshua West squared off against the Green Party’s Cheri Honkala. Democrat Jewell Williams was not present.
West, who has a criminal justice degree from Temple and has spent 19 years in the military, said he’s run a low-key campaign because he’s a new father and a member of the National Guard.
He vowed to make courtroom appearances and join deputies in serving warrants. He’d also abolish live sheriff’s sales in favor of an electronic system, including possibly posting properties on eBay.
“A national audience will push the price up,” said West, adding that the office will save on printing costs.
Honkala, a longtime housing activist, drew some gasps when she told the crowd she’d been arrested more than 200 times. She was once placed on six months probation for moving homeless people near the Liberty Bell.
She promised to sue banks for what she believes is their role in causing blight in neighborhoods after home foreclosures.
“I’m committed to keeping families in their homes. I’m running on a zero-foreclosure platform,” said Honkala, adding that she will not take the sheriff’s full salary if elected.
In the race for city elections commissioner, Democrat Stephanie Singer and Republican Al Schmidt were in attendance. Incumbents Anthony Clark, a Democrat, and Joe Duda, a Republican, did not show up.
Singer, who stunned nine-term incumbent Marge Tartaglione in the primary, said she’ll bring leadership to the office. She’ll also use her web design background to make voter street lists available online to save on printing costs.
“That’s going to be an easy one for me to attack,” she said.
Schmidt, a former senior analyst with the federal Government Accountability Office, believes he’ll bring integrity to the office, and hopes it leads to higher voter turnout. He faults the commissioners for having poor relationships with the public, the media, law enforcement and non-profit voting-rights groups and will work to form a better dialogue.
“It simply involves them doing their job,” said Schmidt, who was endorsed last week by Ironworkers Local Union 401.
Both candidates oppose an effort to award electoral votes in Pennsylvania based on the outcome in individual congressional districts. They also reject a proposed state bill that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls.
City Council candidates who attended were at-large Republican hopefuls Joe McColgan, Michael Untermeyer and David Oh and 6th Councilmanic District Republican Sandra Stewart. Dave Kralle represented at-large Republican candidate Denny O’Brien.
The Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans and the GOP leaders of the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 14th, 27th and 30th wards will sponsor a candidates’ forum on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Michael Russian Orthodox Church, at 335 Fairmount Ave.
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Bill Rubin, the Democratic candidate in the 10th Councilmanic District, has unveiled his three priorities for reforming Philadelphia’s pension program.
Rubin, who is challenging Republican Councilman Brian O’Neill, spent seven years as vice chairman and trustee of the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement.
“We need a representative in City Council with the expertise to find and implement common-sense solutions to the problems that our pension system faces,” he said.
Rubin wants to put an end to “spiking,” the term used when public employees get promotions in the last few years of their employment and receive bigger lifetime pension checks. He favors putting a 10-percent annual cap on salary increases in the final three years of a public employee’s service.
In addition, he would place elected officials and rank-and-file workers in the same pension plan.
Also, he would end the practice of allowing workers to convert pensions at any time from city, state or federal positions, as long as they are not vested in another plan. Military pensions would be exempt.
“We must pursue reforms that will keep our pension system strong, and these three priorities are a step in that direction,” he said.
Meanwhile, both candidates are running commercials on cable television.
Rubin’s spot shows O’Neill pictured with Councilwoman Marian Tasco, who is expected to run for Council president despite the fact that she is enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan and will collect $478,057 in retirement money but remain on the job at her full salary.
An announcer calls Tasco his “DROP ally,” shows a bag of money falling into O’Neill’s hands and declares that he voted for DROP so he could “pocket half-a-million in cash.” O’Neill has not enrolled in DROP and has said he will never do so. Rubin has promised not to support Tasco’s presidential bid; O’Neill has not yet done so.
O’Neill appears in his commercial driving, talking on the phone and standing outside his district office. It also shows local scenes and features people lauding him for things such as never voting for property tax increases.
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The Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association has endorsed McColgan’s bid for City Council.
McColgan favors repealing the business privilege tax.
“We need a strong voice for business on City Council, and we couldn’t find a tougher guy to fight for the interests of job growth than Joe McColgan,” said Ying Zhang Lin, vice president of the association.
McColgan has also been endorsed by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, International Association of Firefighters Local 22 and the Fujian Association of Greater Philadelphia.
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Looking ahead to 2012, Patrick Murphy, a Democratic candidate for state attorney general, expressed support for a federal jobs bill intended to pay for the hiring of teachers, police officers and firefighters.
Murphy is a former congressman and son of a retired Philadelphia police officer.
The candidate weighed in on another federal matter, calling on Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly to support the confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
A bipartisan group of 37 attorneys general is supporting Cordray, but Senate Republicans plan to block the nomination because they want him to answer to an oversight panel.
Murphy wrote a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, asking him to allow a vote on the nomination.
The Democratic primary field for attorney general also includes former assistant district attorneys Dan McCaffery of Philadelphia and Kathleen Kane of Lackawanna County.
Possible Republican candidates are state Sen. John Rafferty of Montgomery County and Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org