HomeNewsBid for slot on elections panel heats up

Bid for slot on elections panel heats up

In the race for city elections commissioner, voters get to make two choices.

Marie Delany, who lost the Republican primary last month, will use only one of her two votes.

“I’m just going to vote for Al Schmidt,” she said.

Delany is executive director of Overington House, a facility for homeless women with children in Frankford. She started the year running for an at-large City Council seat.

However, David Oh made a late surge to secure the fifth and final endorsement by the Republican City Committee.

Then, Delany dropped her Council bid and entered the race for commissioner, where she was joined by Schmidt, James Mugford and incumbent Joe Duda.

Duda and Mugford were endorsed by the GOP, which shunned Schmidt, who is part of a reform movement within the party.

When ballot positions were drawn, the order was Duda, Delany, Schmidt and Mugford. In an effort to stop Schmidt, Mugford dropped out, and the party threw its support behind Delany.

Nonetheless, Schmidt ran a well-funded, well-executed campaign, finishing just 110 votes behind Duda. Delany was third.

“I would have loved for it to be Al and I,” Delany said.

While Duda and Delany made up the endorsed ticket, she didn’t do so well in the Far Northeast’s 66th Ward, where Duda is the Republican leader. Duda led the way with 1,522 votes, followed by Schmidt with 955 and Delany with 749.

The Democrats nominated incumbent Anthony Clark and Stephanie Singer, who knocked out nine-term incumbent Marge Tartaglione.

The Green Party is expected to nominate Richie Antipuna.

The two Democrats are virtual shoo-ins because of their party’s large voter-registration advantage. Duda and Schmidt will look for support from Democrats and independents to earn the third spot. The city charter reserves one seat on the three-member commission for the minority party, which for 60 years has been the Republicans.

Looking ahead to the general election, Delany sees Schmidt as the candidate who would make the office more transparent. She also believes he can help lead a revival of the local Republican Party.

“I prefer his policies,” she said. “He’s done his homework. He’s hungry.”

• • •

Joe McColgan, a Republican candidate for an at-large Council seat, addressed Council during its June 23 session.

McColgan urged members to vote against any tax increases, and he renewed his call for the resignation of Arlene Ackerman, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

The candidate wants to dissolve the School Reform Commission and move to an elected school board.

“Stop using our children as pawns and political currency to advance a failed business model, vote against this tax increase this afternoon, postpone your summer recess — stay in session — and find a long-term solution to our education nightmare,” he said.

“When our children are failing, we ask them to work harder and stay longer. Why should this City Council be any different?”

Council ignored McColgan’s plea and passed a budget that includes tax increases, among them a 3.85 percent hike in property taxes.

Those voting for higher property taxes were Curtis Jones, Darrell Clarke, Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Donna Reed Miller, Marian Tasco, Wilson Goode Jr., Blondell Reynolds Brown, Jim Kenney, Bill Greenlee, Bill Green and Jack Kelly.

Voting against the property tax increase were Frank DiCicco, Anna Verna, Jannie Blackwell, Joan Krajewski, Brian O’Neill and Frank Rizzo.

• • •

Also last week, Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed a bill that changes — but preserves — the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan.

Council voted 14–3 to keep DROP, but with modifications that would make it less costly.

Nutter, though, wants to eliminate the program altogether because of its cost.

Council will likely override the veto when it returns to work in September after its three-month summer recess.

Among those voting to keep DROP, a retirement-incentive plan for city employees, was Brian O’Neill (R-10th dist.).

His Democratic opponent in the November election, Bill Rubin, notes that the incumbent would be eligible for about $500,000 in DROP money if he is re-elected and later retires.

Rubin is asking O’Neill to sign a waiver form specifying that he will not join DROP and submit it to the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement.

O’Neill said the form is faulty because it applies only to current DROP enrollees and their beneficiaries, adding that the pension board would not accept the document even if he signed it.

“I’m never going to enroll in DROP,” O’Neill said. “End of story. I don’t know how many times I can say it.”

Rubin has pointed out that O’Neill signed a DROP application form on Nov. 30, 2007. O’Neill, though, said the pension board told him the form was non-binding, adding that he signed it because it was a way to get a complete printout of his benefits. ••

Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215–354–3034 or twaring@bsmphilly.com

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