City controller candidate speaks at Holmesburg Rec

Terry Tracy, the Republican candidate for city controller, plans to focus on public schools, municipal pensions, economic growth and government accountability if he is elected on Nov. 5.

Tracy, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Alan Butkovitz, spoke during a town hall meeting last week at Holmesburg Recreation Center.

More than 60 people attended the July 30 event, with former state Senate candidate Mike Tomlinson introducing Tracy.

Tomlinson, who challenged state Sen. Mike Stack last year, acknowledged that Butkovitz has a big financial advantage on Tracy, but believes the Republican understands key issues such as public education and business taxes.

“We need to look at the person and not the party,” Tomlinson said.

Tracy, who lives in Fitler Square, studied political science at Temple and earned a master’s in government administration from Penn. His work experience includes working for major retail firms in North America.

The Republican likened the race to a congressional midterm election. He hopes people fed up with Mayor Michael Nutter midway through his second term will vote for a check and balance in the form of a GOP city controller. A Republican has not served as controller since Tom Gola did 40 years ago.

The candidate stood in front of charts showing Philadelphia as the highest-taxed big city in America. He noted that the School District of Philadelphia receives about $16,000 per year per student, and cannot understand why the district continually demands more money.

At the same time, he likes what he hears from Superintendent William Hite, who has said he wants traditional Philadelphia public schools to be more competitive with private and charter schools in attracting students.

Tracy believes the city can save money by examining no-bid contracts more closely. And he thinks it is reasonable to ask city departments to cut anywhere from 1 percent to 5 percent of their annual budgets.

Tracy said the city could generate money by collecting property taxes from deadbeats. The national average collection rate, according to studies, is about 95 percent. In Philadelphia, it’s about 85 percent, a figure the candidate labeled “abysmal.”

In addition, he contends that the sale of the city-owned Philadelphia Gas Works will provide a much-needed infusion of money.

“To me, it’s a slam dunk,” he said.

If Philadelphia gains better financial footing, Tracy would like to spend more money to improve services at the city’s district health centers. He said the average wait to make an appointment with a doctor is 83 days.

In a question-and-answer session, a resident asked Tracy about the proposed methadone clinic at Frankford Avenue and Decatur Street.

“It’s a catastrophe,” Tracy said.

••

State Sen. Shirley Kitchen has endorsed Marjorie Margolies in next year’s race in the 13th Congressional District.

Kitchen represents the 3rd Senatorial District, which includes Olney, a neighborhood in the 13th Congressional District.

Margolies is a former congresswoman and president of Women’s Campaign International. She pledged to fight for more funding for post-secondary education, an issue Kitchen has worked on in Harrisburg.

“Marjorie’s fight for women’s health clinics in Conshohocken and to lower infant mortality rates in Norristown mirror my own efforts in the state Senate to pass the Pennsylvania Health Center and Clinic Act to improve the quality of care in Pennsylvania’s local health centers and health care clinics,” Kitchen said.

“I am confident that Marjorie, with her experience in Congress and the relationships she has forged and maintained over the past two decades, will hit the ground running when she returns to Washington. The neighborhoods I represent cannot afford to lose one day in the fight for resources to feed our hungry, educate our children and secure our streets. Only Marjorie can deliver this kind of representation on day one.”

Other elected officials backing Margolies are U.S. House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, state Sen. LeAnna Washington and state Rep. Madeleine Dean.

Margolies is in a four-way primary with state Sen. Daylin Leach, state Rep. Brendan Boyle and Dr. Val Arkoosh, a health-care reform advocate.

The seat will be open next year because Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz is running for governor. No Republican candidate has stepped forward in the congressional district.

••

Brendan Boyle hopes the American Postal Workers Union Local 7048 will deliver for him on Election Day.

The union became the 18th to endorse him in the congressional race.

“Brendan Boyle has a record of standing up for workers’ rights and the interest of working- and middle-class families,” said Vince Tarducci, a Bustleton resident and president of Local 7048. “We are proud to support a true economic progressive voice for working people. It’s with great pleasure we stand with him and look forward to working hard to send him to Washington, D.C.” ••