Spreading the word: Abraham Lincoln High School senior Brandon McKenna is pictured with Democratic state Rep. Ed Neilson (left) and Republican Al Schmidt, a city elections commissioner, during an assembly on April 17. McKenna organized the event for Abraham Lincoln High School juniors and seniors to encourage them to register to vote. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTO
Abraham Lincoln High School senior Brandon McKenna last week organized an assembly for juniors and seniors to encourage them to register to vote.
McKenna invited Democratic state Rep. Ed Neilson and Republican Al Schmidt, a city elections commissioner, to the April 17 event.
Neilson and Schmidt told the students they’ve never missed voting in an election since turning 18. They told the teenagers that every vote is important. Neilson, a 1981 Lincoln graduate, won his first race in 2012 by 524 votes.
Neilson, who is running for an at-large City Council seat, said Democrats are for the “have-nots,” while Republicans favor the “haves.” He credited Democrats with caring more about health care, supporting an increase in the minimum wage and bringing about a 40-hour work week. He said Republicans want to give tax cuts to the rich while Democrats want to increase taxes on the rich.
“The Democrats stick up for the working families in America,” he said.
Neilson and Democrats are in a 111–92 minority in the House of Representatives. He wants more money for education, teacher pensions and Philadelphia in general, but said many lawmakers believe the city is properly funded.
“They think Philadelphia drains all the money out of the budget,” he said.
Schmidt does not deal in city, state or federal policy in his job, which is generally to oversee elections twice a year. He declined to talk in a partisan tone. He was encouraged to become a Republican after watching, in his fourth-grade classroom, Ronald Reagan taking the oath of office as president in 1981. He also pointed to his father succeeding in a startup business. He said Republicans want lower taxes for all.
“They want more opportunity for everyone,” he said.
At the end of the assembly, about 150 students had registered to vote.
McKenna, an 18-year-old from Mayfair, plans to attend Community College of Philadelphia for two years before transferring to Temple. He’ll study economics.
State Reps. Brendan Boyle and Kevin Boyle have endorsed Mike Driscoll in the 173rd Legislative District Democratic primary.
“In the decade that I’ve known Mike Driscoll, he’s consistently been a pillar of our community,” Brendan Boyle said. “Mike is a committed family man and a tireless advocate for local community groups that strengthen our neighborhoods. His commitment to creating good jobs and public safety is what we need in Harrisburg.”
“The work that Mike has done as past chairman of the Mayfair CDC is unparalleled and will allow him to tackle our region’s toughest problems,” Kevin Boyle said. “He will be a great addition to an already strong group of Northeast Philadelphia legislators.”
Paul DeFinis, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, survived a challenge to his nominating petitions and will appear on the ballot. He has the top ballot position.
Dennis Kilderry will be listed second on the ballot.
Driscoll’s name will appear last.
The Republican candidate is Mike Tomlinson.
Philadelphia voters will decide on three proposed changes to the Home Rule Charter.
Question 1 reads, “Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to confirm Council’s powers to enact provisions Council considers necessary or appropriate to implement a Minimum Wage and Benefits Ordinance, including, but not limited to, provisions mandating that minimum wage and benefits requirements be passed along to subcontractors on City contracts and subrecipients of City financial assistance, and provisions authorizing the granting and revocation of waivers, with debarment as a potential penalty for violation of such provisions?”
Question 2 reads, “Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended so that effective January 1, 2016, an elected official of the City may become a candidate for nomination or election to a different public office without first resigning from his or her current office, the same as state and federal elected officials, but may not run for re-election to his or her current office in the same election?”
Question 3 reads, “Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide that Council approval is required for certain contracts for one year or less for the purpose of providing legal representation and related services for indigent persons, including but not limited to parents and children who are subjects of dependency proceedings; criminal defendants; persons in juvenile justice proceedings; persons involved in behavioral health proceedings; and indigent persons involved in other proceedings where legal representation is required?”
The Republican City Committee is criticizing the city for costly overtime spending as detailed in a story on philly.com.
Adam Lang, Republican leader of the 29th Ward, faulted the mayor and City Council for a lack of oversight.
“They have an example of someone with a base salary of $27,000 making $86,000 a year with overtime,” Lang said. “They could hire another full-time employee for less than that, including benefits. Save money in the budget and the pension by employing another Philadelphian? Why wouldn’t you?”
The city has spent $890 million in overtime in the last five years.
“This just shows that the people in charge really don’t care about the money being spent,” said Joe DeFelice, executive director of the Republican City Committee. “How many school district deficits could this cover? How many more police officers could we hire? How many more potholes could be filled? What taxes could we lower?” ••