Democratic ward leaders in the 173rd Legislative District are unanimously behind Mike Driscoll in the May 20 primary.
Driscoll, co-owner of Finnigan’s Wake and business development administrator for the 113,000-member Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, also has the backing of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.
On Sunday morning, Driscoll officially announced his candidacy at the FOP’s new Far Northeast location.
John McNesby, the Lodge 5 president, is serving as Driscoll’s campaign chairman. McNesby vowed to run the campaign like a “well-oiled machine,” and added that there are about 1,200 FOP members who live in the 173rd. The candidate’s campaign office is located at 8344 Torresdale Ave.
Driscoll will face opposition in the Democratic primary from Dennis Kilderry and Paul DeFinis, an auto body shop owner. Mike Tomlinson, who ran for the state Senate two years ago, will be the Republican candidate. Candidates have until Tuesday to file nominating petitions.
“I’m very confident, but I don’t take anything lightly,” Driscoll said.
Ward leaders Connie Dougherty, Bob Dellavella, Bobby Henon and Shawn Dillon attended Driscoll’s announcement. Mike McAleer, the other ward leader in the district, also backs Driscoll.
Driscoll, who lives on Milnor Street in Torresdale, was also joined by his wife, Franny, and five children, ages 9 to 17. The district generally includes Tacony, East Mayfair, Holmesburg, Torresdale, Crestmont Farms and portions of the Far Northeast. The seat is open because Democratic Rep. Mike McGeehan has decided against seeking another term.
Driscoll, 53, grew up on the 1100 block of E. Cheltenham Ave. in an Oxford Circle row home where his dad still lives. He attended St. Martin of Tours and Cardinal Dougherty. He has a degree in English/secondary education from La Salle and a master’s in governmental administration from Penn.
This will be Driscoll’s second run for office. In 2003, he ran for an at-large City Council seat, but finished seventh among 10 candidates. Five candidates were nominated, and he was hurt by having his name listed last on the ballot.
Driscoll served as deputy secretary of the Department of General Services in the administration of Gov. Bob Casey. He’s also been on numerous boards, including Impact Services, the Mayfair Community Development Corporation, Glen Foerd on the Delaware, Delaware River City Corporation, St. Hubert High School, St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, Irish Society of Philadelphia and Self Help Movement. He’s a founding member of Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 25 and a member of the Delaware Valley Irish and St. Martin of Tours halls of fame.
On the issues, Driscoll believes the state shortchanges Philadelphia in funding for public education. He is hopeful new School Reform Commission chairman Bill Green will help secure more money.
“That will be an important part of my focus,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll believes the city’s manufacturing task force, which Henon co-chairs, could lead to a public/private partnership to create jobs. The candidate also will concentrate on public safety, accepting McNesby’s advice on the subject. Also, he wants to find ways, such as additional grants, to make college more affordable.
“The college tuitions are so out of control,” he said.
Driscoll believes a better public education system and affordable real estate taxes are ways to respond to the recent Pew Charitable Trusts study that showed a sharp decline in Philadelphia’s middle class.
“That is very troubling,” Driscoll said.
In other political news, the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity endorsed State Treasurer Rob McCord in the Democratic primary for governor.
The Rev. Terrence D. Griffiths, president of the group, said his members are concerned about issues such as education, economic growth and fairness in the criminal justice system.
“We looked at all the candidates running for governor, and we are firmly convinced that Treasurer McCord has the best experience and vision for the future of Pennsylvania, and McCord is best prepared to defeat Tom Corbett,” he said.
The group consists of more than 400 pastors and ministers in the Philadelphia region. ••