Election Day is Tuesday, and candidates are making last-minute campaign appearances.
One of the popular stops was Sunday morning’s candidates brunch at Congregations of Shaare Shamayim in Bustleton. The event was co-hosted by lawyer and educator Ruth Horwitz and former state Sen. Bob Rovner.
Republican Danny Alvarez, a lawyer and married father of two from Somerton, is challenging Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams.
Alvarez, who served eight years as an assistant district attorney, has made fighting public corruption the centerpiece of his campaign.
“Nothing has been done about political corruption,” he said.
Alvarez wants to use all the resources of the office to prosecute crime and is not interested in hiring people to plan parties or serve as community liaisons.
As an example, he wants to dedicate resources to an anti-human trafficking unit.
“Philadelphia has become a hub of human trafficking,” he said.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz is seeking his third term. He previously served 15 years as a state representative.
Butkovitz said state Republicans are shortchanging Philadelphia on issues such as funding for public education, adding that the city needs help in general because it has a 28-percent poverty rate.
The incumbent said he loves his job, even though it’s a “very tough environment” economically. He’s used the office to critique the city’s Actual Value Initiative for property taxes, the sheriff’s office, rescue squads and charter schools. His recommendations have accounted for about $800 million in savings and efficiencies. He hopes to persuade the city’s hospitals and universities to purchase more of their manufactured goods from Philadelphia companies.
Butkovitz said he has not been shy about criticizing members of his party.
“I haven’t had any trouble standing up to a Democratic mayor,” he said.
Republican Terry Tracy said Butkovitz has not effectively used the great powers the office is given through the Home Rule Charter.
In particular, Tracy lays some of the blame on Butkovitz for the financial disarray and overall woes in the School District of Philadelphia.
“You have to win the lottery to get a quality education in the city,” said Tracy, noting the popularity of charter schools.
Tracy said he will be a better watchdog for the city’s finances.
“The money is being spent ineffectively,” he said. “To me, it’s a question of vision, values and judgment.”
In Tuesday’s other races, Republican Vic Stabile will face Democrat Jack McVay for a seat on Pennsylvania Superior Court. McVay is a lawyer from Cumberland County. McVay is a Common Pleas Court judge from Allegheny County.
City voters will elect seven people to the Court of Common Pleas. The candidates are Republican Ken Powell, Libertarian Stephen Miller, Democrats Timika Lane, Joe Fernandes, Dan McCaffery, Giovanni Campbell, Sierra Thomas Street and Scott O’Keefe, and Anne Marie Coyle, who will appear on the Republican and Democratic tickets.
Voters will elect three individuals to Municipal Court. There is no drama. The only candidates are Democrats Martin Coleman, Henry Lewandowski and Fran Shields, who lives in Lawndale.
Voters will choose yes or no on new terms for the following judges:
Supreme Court: Max Baer and Ronald D. Castille, the chief justice who is a Rhawnhurst resident and former district attorney.
Superior Court: Susan Peikes Gantman and Jack Panella.
Court of Common Pleas: Jacqueline F. Allen, Genece E. Brinkley, Ramy I. Djerassi, Lori A. Dumas, Holly J. Ford, Joel Steven Johnson, Frederica A. Massiah Jackson, Rayford A. Means, Jeffrey P. Minehart, Joseph D. O’Keefe, Paula A. Patrick, Doris A. Pechkurow, Allan L. Tereshko and Nina Wright Padilla.
Municipal Court: Teresa Carr Deni, Jacquelyn Frazier Lyde, Joseph J. O’Neill and Wendy L. Pew.
Voters also will decide on the following bond question: Should the City of Philadelphia borrow ninety-four million seven hundred forty-five thousand dollars ($94,745,000.00) to be spent for and toward capital purposes as follows: Transit; Streets and Sanitation; Municipal Buildings; Parks, Recreation and Museums; and Economic and Community Development?
The Republican City Committee is recommending a “No” vote on the aforementioned bond question, citing a lack of details on how the debt will be spent.
“If City Hall wants voters to approve more debt for buildings and infrastructure, they need to disclose to voters what those projects are, so we can make an informed decision. Right now, a voter doesn’t know where the money is going,” said executive director Joe DeFelice.
“Philadelphia has a history of using capital funds for operating expenses, which is the functional equivalent of taking out a mortgage to buy groceries,” added Matt Wolfe, a member of the policy committee.
Three of the four Democrats competing in next year’s 13th Congressional District primary attended Sunday’s candidates forum at the Congregations of Shaare Shamayim.
Dr. Valerie Arkoosh has a degree in public health policy and has served as president of the National Physicians Alliance, which advocated for the federal Affordable Care Act.
Arkoosh is trying to distinguish herself from her three opponents - state Rep. Brendan Boyle, state Sen. Daylin Leach and former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies - by billing herself as an outsider.
“I believe that we must change the conversation in Washington,” she said.
Boyle is in his third term in the state House of Representatives. A board member of the local Holocaust Awareness Museum, he spoke about his efforts to require schools to teach about the Holocaust and genocide. Five states already have the requirement. They are New Jersey, New York, Florida, Illinois and California.
Boyle, whose wife is a public school teacher, explained that he advocates for more state funding for education. He also noted that his district offices serve more than 12,000 people a year.
Leach called for reform to campaign financing and what he called “gerrymandering” and “voter suppression.” In office, he has tried to give a “hand up” to people by supporting legislation that will lower poverty rates, increase jobs and improve public education.
Leach has fought for “progressive values,” opposing the death penalty and introducing a same-sex marriage bill “years before it was cool.”
“I take on the toughest issues,” he said. ••