Northeast Times

It’s almost election time: meet your local candidates!

Here's what you need to know about the names you'll see on the bal­lot Nov. 6.

Race: 1st Dis­trict in the State Sen­ate; runs from South Philly through Fishtown, North­ern Liber­ties and Kens­ing­ton.

Can­did­ate: Larry Farnese, Demo­crat

Back­ground: Farnese, 44, an at­tor­ney who lives in Cen­ter City, was elec­ted in 2008.

Pri­or­ity if Re-elec­ted: Job cre­ation. Farnese was in­volved in the South­port Mar­ine Ter­min­al Pro­ject at the Navy Yard. “That will bring thou­sands of jobs to Phil­adelphia,” he said. The ter­min­al is un­der con­struc­tion, and in com­bin­a­tion with the Delaware dredging pro­ject start­ing next year, is ex­pec­ted to stim­u­late the Navy Yard eco­nomy. Farnese will in­tro­duce a bill to lever­age nearby ports in the Phil­adelphia dis­trict as well to fur­ther stim­u­late wa­ter­front busi­ness. Farnese cited his re­cord for evid­ence of his on­go­ing pri­or­it­ies: writ­ing the bill that ended the DROP pro­gram (the De­ferred Re­tire­ment Op­tion Plan — some elec­ted of­fi­cials who col­lec­ted six-fig­ure DROP pay­ments would then re­turn to of­fice), erect­ing I-95 sound bar­ri­ers in Fishtown, serving on the North­ern Liber­ties Li­quor Nuis­ance Task Force and help­ing pass the Straw Buy­er gun con­trol bill last week.

Pet Is­sue: “I would take away the games­man­ship that is present in all polit­ics. Not just Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­an, but the pro­cess it­self,” Farnese said. “If you al­low all the bills and laws to come to Sen­ate in­stead of be­ing held up by com­mit­tees, you’re go­ing to al­low people to vote on what their con­stitu­ents want … The idea of hold­ing up le­gis­la­tion and not mov­ing it is a byproduct of the sys­tem that needs to be fixed.” ••

Can­did­ate: Alf­onso Gam­bone, Re­pub­lic­an

Back­ground: Gam­bone, 34, is an at­tor­ney and South Philly res­id­ent who served in the Ir­aq war, ac­cord­ing to his on­line bio­graphy (he could not be reached for an in­ter­view).

Pri­or­ity if Elec­ted: Gam­bone sup­ports lower­ing taxes and re­du­cing reg­u­la­tions to en­cour­age eco­nom­ic growth as well as shrink­ing the gov­ern­ment and cut­ting state spend­ing. He sup­ports frack­ing — which prac­tices hy­draul­ic frac­tur­ing of un­der­ground shale de­pos­its for nat­ur­al gas — in the Mar­cel­lus Shale as an eco­nom­ic driver, tar­get­ing low-per­form­ing pub­lic schools for clos­ure to con­sol­id­ate funds, and pun­ish­ing state agen­cies that fail to meet mul­ti­year goals.

Pet Is­sue: Gam­bone sup­ports edu­ca­tion re­form be­cause, ac­cord­ing to his blog, “As a crim­in­al de­fense at­tor­ney, I have wit­nessed, firsthand, the cor­rel­a­tion between a per­son who drops out of high school and the like­li­hood that this same per­son will com­mit a crime later in life. Every child de­serves the right to at­tend a good school, staffed with mo­tiv­ated teach­ers who will in­spire chil­dren to achieve their full po­ten­tial; any­thing less is un­ac­cept­able.” ••

Race: State Rep. of the 177th Dis­trict; cov­ers North­east Philly in­clud­ing Kens­ing­ton, Port Rich­mond and Brides­burg.

Can­did­ate: John Taylor, Re­pub­lic­an

Back­ground: State Rep. John Taylor, 57, has rep­res­en­ted the 177th Dis­trict for 28 years, mean­ing this will be his 15th elec­tion.

Pri­or­ity if Re-elec­ted: “Raise fund­ing for mass trans­it, roads, bridges, our trans­port­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture be­cause we’re woe­fully be­hind on that. We could not set up tolls on I-80, and that’s reach­ing emer­gency pro­por­tions,” Taylor said. Fresh from a le­gis­lat­ive ses­sion in Har­ris­burg, Taylor said he wants to re­new his ef­forts on pre­scrip­tion drugs and drug ab­use as well as blight from the es­tim­ated 40,000 va­cant and aban­doned prop­er­ties in Phil­adelphia. He’s op­tim­ist­ic that the Phil­adelphia Land Bank Bill, passed last week, will lead to faster ac­tion on clean­ing up these de­cay­ing land par­cels.

Pet Is­sue: Schools and safety are the two most im­port­ant is­sues to his con­stitu­ents, Taylor said. He said he fa­vors ex­pand­ing every­one’s op­por­tun­ity to be edu­cated at a charter school, us­ing the Edu­ca­tion­al Im­prove­ment Tax Cred­it vouch­er to help low-in­come stu­dents pay for pa­ro­chi­al schools, and get­ting more fund­ing for pub­lic schools so they can com­pete with the first two op­tions. ••

Can­did­ate: Wil­li­am Dun­bar, Demo­crat

Back­ground: Dun­bar, 28, lives in Port Rich­mond. Ex­per­i­ences in­clude work­ing for U.S. Rep. Chaka Fat­tah and state Rep. Tony Payton and as re­gis­trar at Lin­coln Uni­versity.

Pri­or­ity if Elec­ted: Edu­ca­tion. “We need to spend more money edu­cat­ing our youths so that they will ul­ti­mately be­come a more edu­cated work force, then they will buy homes, get jobs and take part in the com­munity,” he said. Dun­bar wants more fund­ing for schools so par­ents can choose between a pub­lic, charter or “cy­ber” school or re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tion for their chil­dren’s edu­ca­tion. Dun­bar also sup­ports Obama­care and said state sup­port for the plan will lower health-care costs loc­ally.

Pet Is­sue: Dun­bar said run­ning against a 14-term in­cum­bent (Rep. John Taylor) is daunt­ing. As Dun­bar put it, “Some of the people in my party might not like this, but we need some sort of term lim­its. … We need change in our com­munit­ies be­cause our world is drastic­ally chan­ging. How do we have a sys­tem where our gov­ernor and may­or have term lim­its, but out state le­gis­lat­ors and City Coun­cil mem­bers can stay there as long as they want?”••

Race: 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict in the U.S. House; runs from Chester to Holmes­burg in the North­east.

Can­did­ate: John Feather­man, Re­pub­lic­an

Back­ground: Feather­man, 40, is a li­censed real es­tate agent and real es­tate in­struct­or at Temple Uni­versity. He lives in Chin­atown and has run for loc­al of­fice sev­er­al times be­fore, usu­ally as a Liber­tari­an.

Pri­or­ity if Elec­ted: End­ing the war on drugs. Feather­man said drug ab­use is one of the main reas­ons the 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict is the fourth poorest in the na­tion. “I would sug­gest de­crim­in­al­iz­a­tion – not leg­al­iz­a­tion, big dif­fer­ence – of drugs. De­crim­in­al­iz­a­tion is a slow pro­cess.” Feather­man wants drug ad­dicts to get med­ic­al help, not be thrown in jail.

Pet Is­sue: The Phil­adelphia Demo­crat­ic ma­chine is hurt­ing the city and its res­id­ents, Feather­man said. He wants re­form, like sav­ing tax­pay­er dol­lars by bid­ding out pub­lic ser­vices like trash pick-up, mu­ni­cip­al com­puter ser­vice and en­ergy de­liv­ery.

He wants to cut taxes and budgets by 10 per­cent across the board, end the gross re­ceipts tax (call­ing it “the biggest job-killer in Phil­adelphia”), and en­act a “Right to Work” stat­ute that makes re­quired uni­on mem­ber­ship il­leg­al.

“If [in­cum­bent Con­gress­man] Bob Brady wins, we’re go­ing to see more of the same thing, which is noth­ing,” he said. “I have lots of ideas. If I lose, those ideas may go away.”  ••

Can­did­ate: Bob Brady, Demo­crat

Back­ground: Brady, 67, is run­ning for his ninth term. He has held the of­fice since 1998, and has served as Phil­adelphia Demo­crat­ic Party chair­man since 1986.

Pri­or­ity if Re-elec­ted: Job cre­ation. “We’re try­ing to in­crease the middle class and help those that want to be in the middle class,” Brady said. Re­cent ef­forts in­clude or­gan­iz­ing a $200,000 dona­tion by Sun­oco to the Red Cross to sup­port med­ic­al job train­ing and help­ing to al­loc­ate $30 mil­lion in fed­er­al fund­ing to­ward the Delaware River dredging pro­ject, which will make it avail­able to lar­ger ves­sels.

“It’s not just jobs for the river, the re­sid­ual goes to all the oth­er vendors, the truck drivers and the mom-and-pop stores around the river,” Brady said.

Brady es­tim­ated that he had funneled $3 bil­lion in gov­ern­ment sup­port to or­gan­iz­a­tions in Phil­adelphia that will cre­ate jobs. In Wash­ing­ton, Brady sup­ports passing stricter na­tion­al gun-con­trol laws, which he said his op­pon­ent doesn’t sup­port.

Pet Is­sue: Poverty and hun­ger. “It’s a poor dis­trict I’ve been fight­ing for all these years,” Brady said, ac­know­ledging Phil­adelphia’s is­sues with poverty, but he dis­puted his op­pon­ent’s claim that the 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict is the fourth poorest dis­trict in the na­tion (out of 435). “That’s wrong. We’re not the fourth; we’re prob­ably halfway up there now,” he said. “We’re mov­ing up.”  ••

Race: 5th Dis­trict in the State Sen­ate; in­cludes Brides­burg, Port Rich­mond and Kens­ing­ton.

Can­did­ate: Mi­chael Stack, Demo­crat

Back­ground: Stack, 49, an at­tor­ney, is run­ning for his fourth term.

Pri­or­ity if Re-elec­ted: “Fight­ing to cre­ate jobs,” Stack said. He men­tioned the $3 mil­lion de­vel­op­ment grant he helped al­loc­ate for an ex­pan­sion at Aria Health’s Tor­res­dale cam­pus in Ju­ly. He es­tim­ated the hos­pit­al’s growth will cre­ate over 200 jobs. “What I do is I con­tin­ue to look for op­por­tun­it­ies to help job-ready or­gan­iz­a­tions,” he said. Stack also said he hopes to in­crease fund­ing to pub­lic schools and con­tin­ue “fight­ing back­door tax in­creases such as the AVI [Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive].”

Sev­er­al le­gis­lat­ors re­cently have come out against May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter’s AVI pro­pos­al, say­ing it will un­fairly in­crease prop­erty taxes on their con­stitu­ents. Stack’s al­tern­at­ive is that the city should pri­or­it­ize col­lect­ing an es­tim­ated $500 mil­lion owed by prop­erty-tax de­lin­quents.

Pet Is­sue: Stack is act­ive in health care, try­ing to stream­line ser­vices and drive down costs. He ad­dressed re­sur­rect­ing the adult­Basic in­sur­ance pro­gram for adults liv­ing un­der the poverty line, which ended in 2011 un­der Gov. Tom Corbett. “I think we still need to find ways to do it. I haven’t giv­en up on af­ford­able health in­sur­ance,” he said. ••

Can­did­ate: Mike Tom­lin­son, Re­pub­lic­an

Back­ground: Tom­lin­son, 55, of East May­fair, is an ac­count­ant who has worked as a busi­ness con­sult­ant and teach­er. He cur­rently is on So­cial Se­cur­ity Dis­ab­il­ity while in re­hab­il­it­a­tion for a de­gen­er­at­ive eye dis­ease that made him leg­ally blind, but hopes to re­turn to the work force soon.

Pri­or­ity if Elec­ted: Gov­ern­ment re­form. Tom­lin­son said Pennsylvania is one of the worst states to start a busi­ness, one of the top places for law­suit-shop­ping, and spends $85 mil­lion on lob­by­ists and spe­cial in­terest groups, which is why only 29 per­cent of res­id­ents have faith in their gov­ern­ment, he said.

Pet Is­sue: Edu­ca­tion. As a former teach­er who has worked at pub­lic and charter schools, Tom­lin­son said pub­lic schools shouldn’t be closed down, but can­not con­tin­ue to be run the way they are now. “I would not send my kid to a Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict school. I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Tom­lin­son said edu­ca­tion re­form should in­clude em­power­ing pub­lic schools to dis­cip­line, ex­pel or sus­pend stu­dents the way Cath­ol­ic or charter schools can, dis­band­ing the School Re­form Com­mis­sion, and end­ing teach­er ten­ure after three years. ••

Race: State Rep. of the 175th Dis­trict; in­cludes Fishtown and Kens­ing­ton (can­did­ate un­op­posed)

Can­did­ate: Mi­chael H. O’Bri­en

Back­ground: State Rep. Mi­chael H. O’Bri­en was first elec­ted in 2006, and he is run­ning un­op­posed this elec­tion. O’Bri­en, 58, is Fishtown res­id­ent. He had served as chief of staff to his pre­de­cessor, Mar­ie Le­der­er.

Al­though he’s run­ning op­posed, O’Bri­en still needs a min­im­um of 10 votes to be elec­ted. “Don’t think I’m tak­ing this elec­tion for gran­ted just be­cause I’m un­op­posed,” he said.

Pri­or­ity if Re-elec­ted: Keep­ing loc­al air and wa­ter clean. O’Bri­en is try­ing to slow down the nat­ur­al gas “frack­ing” in­dustry, which prac­tices hy­draul­ic frac­tur­ing of un­der­ground shale de­pos­its for nat­ur­al gas. He said that des­pite the eco­nom­ic be­ne­fits, trace amounts of chem­ic­als as­so­ci­ated with the con­tro­ver­sial pro­cess are leak­ing in­to the Delaware River.

Pet Is­sue: O’Bri­en is also a mem­ber of the state House Edu­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, he is deeply in­volved in what he de­scribed as the pain­ful but ne­ces­sary on­go­ing con­sol­id­a­tion of loc­al schools, and is also act­ively work­ing against Gov. Tom Corbett’s cuts of fund­ing for wo­men’s health pro­grams. ••

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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