Local contests heat up as Election Day approaches

Al Taubenberger (left) with Councilman O’Neill.

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who took all of the North Delaware Avenue riverfront from fellow Rep. Allyson Schwartz in redistricting, introduced himself to some of his new constituents last week.

Brady (D-1st dist.), of Overbrook, attended an Oct. 18 candidates’ forum at Delaire Landing in East Torresdale.

For the last 26 years, he has served as chairman of the Democratic City Committee. He’s served in Congress for the last 14 years and describes himself as a “workaholic.”

Brady said he represents the working class and does not check a constituent’s voter registration before offering help.

In the House, he is minority-party chairman of the House Administration Committee. He has four offices and hopes to open one in the Northeast, perhaps renting space from existing district offices of state Sen. Mike Stack or City Councilman Bobby Henon.

In remarks at the forum, he described himself as a strong proponent of gun control. He believes members of Congress should not be paid if they don’t pass a budget on time. He thinks Congress needs to compromise more, blaming Tea Party-backed colleagues for much of the gridlock.

“They just want to say no to everything,” said Brady, contending the Tea Party-affiliated members are a headache even for Republican Speaker John Boehner.

Brady’s district stretches well into Delaware County and includes Southwest Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, the river wards and 30 percent of the Northeast. He often has delved into labor and other issues that are not directly at the federal level.

“I represent the city and the region,” he said.

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Meanwhile, Republican John Featherman, a real estate agent and resident of Chinatown, believes he would be a big improvement over Brady.

Featherman opposed Brady in a 1998 special election when he was a Libertarian. He’s been with the GOP since 2001.

The district is among the poorest in the nation, with an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent.

Featherman credits Brady with loving Philadelphia, being street smart and successful in solving labor crises, but faults him for failing to make a difference in 14 years.

In a campaign video, he recalls the level of corruption by local Democratic officials. He contends his opponent is not a leader among House members.

“Arguably, he is the least productive of all 435,” he said.

Featherman derided his opponent as “Boss Brady” and feels “disrespected” that Brady wouldn’t agree to a joint videotaped interview by philly.com. The Republican thinks he’d have gotten the better of the incumbent.

“He wouldn’t have had a lifeline to Jonathan Saidel,” he said of the former city controller, a longtime Brady ally.

If elected, Featherman would put most of his energy into addressing the link between illegal drugs and violent crime.

In addition, he would try to persuade the mayor and City Council to eliminate the gross receipts tax to create an environment for businesses to flourish. He also wants to maintain health standards in the work place and the community, but thinks there are too many environmental and other sorts of regulations.

Featherman, who has less than $6,000 in campaign money to spend, is in the race because he doesn’t think Brady deserves to run unopposed. He’s busy knocking on doors and attending forums, and plans to make robo-calls.

“I know it’s an uphill battle. I just don’t have a lot of money. I’m trying very hard and I’m going to fight until the end,” he said.

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City Councilman Brian O’Neill has endorsed Al Taubenberger, his fellow Republican, for the 172nd Legislative District seat.

Taubenberger, a Fox Chase resident and president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, is challenging Democratic Rep. Kevin Boyle. He promises to provide leadership and get things done for the district by working with the majority GOP in Harrisburg.

“I know firsthand that Al has knocked on thousands of doors in the district, and the reaction has been enormously positive,” O’Neill said. “Voters know him, and they know his dedication to his community and his lifelong support of small business.”

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Next Tuesday is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the upcoming general election. Completed ballots must be returned by Nov. 2. The election is Nov. 6. Applications are available by phoning the Board of Elections at 215–686–3469 or 215–686–3943. Or, they can be picked up at Room 142 City Hall.

To print an application, go to http://www.seventy.org/Downloads/PAAbsenteeBallotApplication.pdf

Also, voters will not be required to show identification at the polls, despite recent mailings by PECO Energy and the city Board of Pensions and Retirement that they will have to present a picture ID. A judge delayed implementation of the voter ID law until next year.

Poll workers will ask for an ID, but only in preparation for next spring’s primary. Voters do not have to produce an ID to cast a ballot.

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The public is invited to two upcoming candidates’ forums.

The first will take place this Thursday in the community room of Holy Redeemer Lafayette, at 8580 Verree Road. It will start at 7:30 p.m.

The second is set for this Sunday at Congregations of Shaare Shamayim, at 9768 Verree Road. It will start at 9 a.m. and is sponsored by the Men’s Club. The moderator will be Ruth K. Horwitz. ••