Northeast Times

O’Neill goes door to door

City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill has eas­ily won re-elec­tion every four years since nar­rowly un­seat­ing Demo­crat Melvin Green­berg in 1979, but he faces an ag­gress­ive op­pon­ent in a dis­trict that is just one-third Re­pub­lic­an.

So, O’Neill is busy banging on doors in the ex­pans­ive 10th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict.

“I find that voters really like it,” he said. “It’s an­oth­er way to stay in touch.”

On Sat­urday af­ter­noon, he and a team of four sup­port­ers — Joe Mc­Gar­rity, Bill Pir­olli, Bobby Yerkov and Kier­sten Reich­ner — knocked on doors in the 66th Ward, 12th Di­vi­sion, in Park­wood and Ram­bler Park.

Reich­ner car­ried a clip­board that con­tained sheets list­ing res­id­ents who are con­sidered likely or some­what likely to vote in the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

O’Neill faces Demo­crat Bill Ru­bin, the city’s former su­per­visor of elec­tions. The Times re­por­ted in last week’s edi­tions on Ru­bin’s door-to-door cam­paign­ing in Mor­rell Park.

Ru­bin en­joys a big voter-re­gis­tra­tion ad­vant­age. Fifty-eight per­cent of voters are Demo­crats, 33 per­cent are Re­pub­lic­ans and the re­main­ing 9 per­cent are in­de­pend­ents or re­gistered with minor parties.

O’Neill, 61, is the only Re­pub­lic­an to rep­res­ent one of Coun­cil’s 10 dis­tricts. Re­pub­lic­ans are con­test­ing only two of the oth­er nine dis­tricts.

There are sev­en at-large mem­bers, and the Home Rule Charter re­serves two seats for the minor­ity party, which has been the GOP for the last 60 years.

Four years ago, O’Neill faced a spir­ited chal­lenge from Demo­crat Sean McAleer. He pre­vailed by a count of 18,129 to 13,018.

Like that year, the in­cum­bent ex­pects to get to half the doors in the dis­trict. He an­ti­cip­ates that turnout will be a little lower be­cause, in 2007, there was an open may­or’s race.

Many res­id­ents wer­en’t home on Sat­urday. Sev­er­al wo­men were in house dresses or had rollers in their hair, and one wear­ing an ap­ron was busy bak­ing cook­ies from scratch. They asked that a handout be placed in the door.

For the ones who opened their doors and were will­ing to greet the coun­cil­man, O’Neill handed them a jar open­er and cam­paign lit­er­at­ure that touts him as “keep­ing the North­east a great place to live, work and raise a fam­ily.” Kids re­ceived a mag­net­ic chip clip.

The lit­er­at­ure boasts of O’Neill’s 99.5-per­cent suc­cess rate in rep­res­ent­ing neigh­bors in front of the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment. It states his op­pos­i­tion to the real es­tate hikes the last two years, and the coun­cil­man will tell you that he op­posed prop­erty tax in­creases dat­ing to the Bill Green and Wilson Goode may­or­al ad­min­is­tra­tions. It also men­tions his dis­trict of­fice and en­dorse­ment by the po­lice and fire­fight­ers uni­ons. He was also en­dorsed last week by the Phil­adelphia In­quirer.

There is one un­der­lined state­ment that reads, “Bri­an has not and will not take DROP.”

As for Ru­bin, O’Neill be­lieves his op­pon­ent’s lit­er­at­ure and cable tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial are mis­lead­ing.

In the TV spot, O’Neill is pic­tured with a bag of money fall­ing in­to his hands.

“It in­dic­ates that I’ve taken DROP, and I haven’t,” he said of the con­tro­ver­sial De­ferred Re­tire­ment Op­tion Plan.

In a piece of lit­er­at­ure, the chal­lenger con­tends that O’Neill wanted to elim­in­ate Fox Chase from his dis­trict in the re­cent Coun­cil re­dis­trict­ing.

“I’d have to be out of my mind to want to get rid of Fox Chase. Fox Chase is my strongest area,” he said.

Be­sides the door-knock­ing, O’Neill is run­ning a TV com­mer­cial and plans to send four dir­ect-mail pieces. On Elec­tion Day, he’ll rely on com­mit­tee people and vo­lun­teers, in­clud­ing a bunch of po­lice re­tir­ees.

Dur­ing the week­end can­vass, one wo­man on As­ter Road was happy to see O’Neill. His of­fice helped her in a dis­pute with a neigh­bor.

“You have a great of­fice. Con­grat­u­late your girls,” she said.

While O’Neill was pleased with the res­ults of a poll he com­mis­sioned about a month ago, one in­dic­a­tion that Ru­bin could be a real threat is the num­ber of lawn signs he has in the dis­trict.

The O’Neill team knocked on the door of a Med­ford Road res­id­ence that had a Ru­bin sign, and the wo­man told the crew she was not in­ter­ested and closed the door.

Most res­id­ents simply ac­cep­ted the lit­er­at­ure without much com­ment, but one man on Med­ford Road com­plained that a city pav­ing crew dam­aged his curb.

An­oth­er man from Ram­bler Road com­plained about dead trees and the lights on Academy Road turn­ing red in a se­quence that slows the flow of traffic.

A man from Morn­ing Glory Road com­plained about get­ting called to jury duty for be­ing re­gistered to vote and told O’Neill he wanted Sunday hunt­ing leg­al­ized. The coun­cil­man couldn’t help him, since the hunt­ing bill is pending in the state le­gis­lature, but the man was pleased to re­ceive the jar open­er, since it’ll help him pull the ar­rows out of his tar­gets. ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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