6th district Council candidates hash it out

Sandra Stew­art, the Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate in the 6th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict, is a neigh­bor­hood vo­lun­teer from Ta­cony who de­scribes her­self as an “in­de­pend­ent com­munity-based lead­er.”

“I feel that I ac­cur­ately rep­res­ent the ma­jor­ity of people in Dis­trict Six,” she said.

Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate Bobby Hen­on, of Tor­res­dale, is polit­ic­al dir­ect­or of the In­ter­na­tion­al Broth­er­hood of Elec­tric­al Work­ers Loc­al 98. He has ties not only to Phil­adelphia movers and shakers, but those in the re­gion.

“I’m the only can­did­ate who has the friend­ships, con­nec­tions and busi­ness as­so­ci­ations that will res­ult in get­ting things done,” he said.

Hen­on de­scribes him­self as a “mod­er­ate Demo­crat.”

“I rep­res­ent work­ing Phil­adelphia,” he said.

Stew­art and Hen­on vis­ited the Times ed­it­or­i­al board last week. Both are mak­ing their first bid for of­fice.

In the primary, Stew­art was un­op­posed, while Hen­on de­feated Marty Bed­narek, 8,210 to 4,376.

The can­did­ates are vy­ing to re­place Demo­crat­ic Coun­cil­wo­man Joan Kra­jew­ski, who is re­tir­ing. She sup­por­ted Bed­narek in the primary.

Demo­crats have a large re­gis­tra­tion ad­vant­age in the dis­trict, mak­ing Hen­on the fa­vor­ite. He also has proved to be a po­tent fund-raiser, over­whelm­ing Bed­narek dur­ing the primary sea­son.

Former Gov. and May­or Ed Rendell and the po­lice and fire­fight­ers uni­ons were ma­jor sup­port­ers of Hen­on in the primary, and they con­tin­ue to back him.

Stew­art said it’s time that voters re­volt against 60 years of Demo­crat­ic rule in Phil­adelphia. She vows not to be be­hold­en to uni­on bosses and cam­paign con­trib­ut­ors.

“I’m in­de­pend­ent,” she said.

One of the first votes the newly elec­ted mem­ber will make is for Coun­cil pres­id­ent. It looks like a two-per­son race between Coun­cil­wo­man Mari­an Tasco and Coun­cil­man Dar­rell Clarke, both Demo­crats, al­though long­time Coun­cil­man James Ken­ney is said to be in­ter­ested in the top spot. The cur­rent pres­id­ent, Anna Ver­na, is re­tir­ing.

In the primary, Hen­on de­clared his op­pos­i­tion to Tasco be­cause she is run­ning for re-elec­tion des­pite be­ing en­rolled in the De­ferred Re­tire­ment Op­tion Plan. He re­mains op­posed to her bid. 

Tasco will col­lect $478,057 in re­tire­ment money in Janu­ary but re­main on the job at her full salary. Clarke is not en­rolled in DROP.

“I can­not and will not vote for some­body who has ab­used the DROP pro­gram and misled the people of Phil­adelphia,” he said.

Hen­on said he would vote for Clarke over Tasco and wouldn’t vote for Tasco even if she were the only can­did­ate.

Dur­ing the primary sea­son, Stew­art traveled to a can­did­ates’ event at the Ol­ney Lib­rary, where she de­clared her sup­port for La­mont Thomas over Tasco in the primary.

“She’s not one of my biggest fans,” Stew­art said of Tasco.

Non­ethe­less, she notes that no Coun­cil mem­bers have pub­licly de­clared they’re run­ning for pres­id­ent. It’s been be­hind-the-scenes jock­ey­ing.

“Do I like Mari­an Tasco? No. Do I like Dar­rell Clarke? No,” Stew­art said.

If elec­ted on Nov. 8, Stew­art will be in the minor­ity. She prides her­self on be­ing “a con­ser­vat­ive through and through.”

Stew­art said she will vote for the can­did­ate she be­lieves will do best for the 6th dis­trict in terms of tax re­lief and in oth­er areas.

“I’m leav­ing my op­tions open,” she said.

On the is­sue of pub­lic edu­ca­tion, Hen­on faults former mem­bers of the School Re­form Com­mis­sion for a lack of over­sight of the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia. He wants the SRC to re­main in place be­cause of the need for state fund­ing. The gov­ernor ap­points three of the five mem­bers.

“I’m not for an elec­ted school board in the city of Phil­adelphia,” he said. “We need the state in­volved with our schools.”

Stew­art said former Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man should have been fired for fisc­al and man­age­ment short­com­ings. In­stead, she took a buy­out worth more than $900,000.

“I ab­so­lutely sup­port an elec­ted school board. All the sur­round­ing counties have elec­ted school boards,” she said.

Hen­on in­dic­ated that he favored a Phil­adelphi­an to re­place Ack­er­man.

“I’m tired of na­tion­al searches. Can’t we find home-grown tal­ent?” he said.

On real es­tate taxes, Hen­on is strongly op­posed to the ac­tu­al value ini­ti­at­ive, which is sched­uled to be im­ple­men­ted next year. Prop­er­ties will be as­sessed at their mar­ket rates, and Coun­cil will set a mil­lage rate to de­term­ine an­nu­al real es­tate bills.

“I’m against it,” Hen­on said. “I’m not for hav­ing the North­east have prop­erty taxes in­creased.”

At present, prop­er­ties are as­sessed at a much lower rate than mar­ket value. Yearly tax bills are de­term­ined by us­ing a math­em­at­ic­al for­mula.

Hen­on is hop­ing the ac­tu­al value ini­ti­at­ive is chal­lenged in court.

“We have to stop these bills from go­ing out,” he said.

Stew­art fears that the ini­ti­at­ive will lead to “back-door prop­erty tax in­creases” to fund what she calls an “out-of-con­trol budget.”

“Their goal is to in­crease the city cof­fers,” she said of city of­fi­cials.

On the is­sue of crime, Hen­on has met with Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Charles Ram­sey and is in reg­u­lar con­tact with Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5. He fa­vors foot patrols on Tor­res­dale and Frank­ford av­en­ues and more use of sur­veil­lance cam­er­as. He’d like to see the work­ing con­di­tions im­proved at the po­lice sta­tion at Har­bison Av­en­ue and Levick Street and would fa­vor split­ting the large and busy 15th Po­lice Dis­trict.

“There’s a des­per­ate need for more po­lice en­force­ment,” he said.

Stew­art has been act­ive with the 15th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil and re­cog­nizes the need for build­ing im­prove­ments at Har­bison and Levick. She op­poses split­ting the dis­trict.

It’s already split up in a way, she said, point­ing to the three Po­lice Ser­vice Areas.

“We need more of­ficers and up­dated equip­ment,” she said. “I be­lieve in pub­lic safety first. I’m a wife and moth­er of two.” ••

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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