Will DROP hurt Donatucci?

Democrat Ron Donatucci, the city’s register of wills, is enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan and originally planned to step down after completing his eighth four-year term in 2011.

However, as several other elected officials have done, he is seeking to return to office after his brief “retirement.”

Republican Linda Wolfe Bateman hopes voters grant Donatucci’s first wish on Tuesday.

“Give him his desire to retire,” she said.

Donatucci, who was unavailable for comment, is a 63-year-old lawyer from South Philadelphia. He has served as Democratic leader of the 26th Ward for 37 years. He was elected a state representative in 1976, leaving office after winning his current post.

The Register of Wills office employs 65 people and is often criticized as a patronage haven. The office, located in City Hall, handles wills, estates, inheritance taxes and marriage licenses and records. It remains open at night on Wednesdays for marriage licenses.

As part of an effort to bolster city finances, Donatucci has given back his city-owned car and part of his salary.

Bateman, Republican leader of Germantown’s 12th Ward, will discuss her candidacy on Sunday from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Marvin Barrish’s Political Shootout, which can be heard on WIFI (1460 AM).

The challenger, who has twice run for state representative, worked for the state Department of Revenue from 1996 to 2011 as an inheritance tax specialist. She retired in March, having spent the last four years as the supervisor for the Philadelphia unit.

If elected, she would “untangle” deeds and close open estate cases.

“I’m qualified. I know what I’m doing,” she said of her current campaign. “I know the office. I know the employees. It would be a smooth transition and an improvement from Donatucci to me.”

Bateman explained that DROP was originally intended for city employees, not necessarily elected officials. Department heads would anticipate retirements up to four years in advance and would be better able to deploy personnel.

“The whole idea is to prepare a replacement. Democrats had four years to prepare a replacement, and they didn’t come up with anyone to run against him,” she said. ••