Mayoral candidates talk education, wage tax

On the campaign trail: Democratic mayoral candidate Nelson Diaz (left), pictured with Al Taubenberger, addressed members of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

Democratic mayoral candidates Nelson Diaz and Lynne Abraham last Friday morning addressed members of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce during a breakfast meeting at Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack Park.

Diaz said he plans to focus on schools because a good education helps people move from poverty to the middle class.

“We need a good school system for every child in the city,” he said.

Abraham called for a lower wage tax, increased SEPTA routes and more business improvement districts. The former district attorney and judge is running as an outsider.

“I’m not owned by anybody. I’m independent,” she said.

The breakfast series will continue on April 10 with Doug Oliver. Anthony H. Williams has also been invited. On April 24, Jim Kenney will appear. Milton Street has been invited. Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack Park is located at 8401 Roosevelt Blvd.

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On Sunday afternoon, Williams attended a fundraiser on his behalf at the Pine Road home of Chuck Feldman.

Feldman supports Williams, in part, because of his sponsorship of a law that calls for Holocaust and genocide education in public schools.

“This is the next mayor of Philadelphia,” Feldman told the crowd.

Among those in attendance were ward leader John Sabatina, state Rep. John Sabatina Jr., City Councilman Ed Neilson and Betsy Wahl, a candidate for Common Pleas Court.

Williams called for a more user-friendly Department of Licenses and Inspections and a focus on fixing potholes, and defended his record on public education.

“I’ve done more for public education than anybody in this race,” he said.

Williams dismissed Mayor Michael Nutter’s call for an increase in property taxes to help fund public schools.

“We’re not raising property taxes 9.3 percent,” he said.

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Meanwhile, Williams is calling for the complete implementation of President Barack Obama’s police task force recommendations.

“In particular, strengthening our civilian oversight body, the Police Advisory Commission, and diversifying our police force are essential for transparency and re-establishing community trust and partnership,” he said.

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Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the local AFL-CIO and Neighborhood Networks have endorsed former City Councilman Jim Kenney in the Democratic primary for mayor.

“Jim Kenney has fought time and again to provide Philadelphia police officers with the resources they need not only to keep our city safe, but also to create real community policing programs. From securing updated equipment to supporting focused deterrence, Jim has proved he understands the social and physical challenges of urban policing,” said Lodge 5 president John McNesby.

Patrick Eiding, president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, said, “Jim Kenney is the right choice for Philadelphia. As a councilman, he stood up time and again to defend working families on everything from prevailing wage to the right to organize. The son of a union firefighter from South Philadelphia, Jim has always focused on families in every neighborhood because he knows Philadelphia is not truly succeeding unless everyone is moving forward. We look forward to working with Jim to create a city where everyone has access to fair, safe working conditions and a living wage.”

Gloria Gilman, chairwoman of Neighborhood Networks, said, “Jim Kenney is a lifelong progressive champion for Philadelphia. As a City Council member, he championed ethics and campaign finance reform, an end to the school-to-prison pipeline, as well as an increase in the minimum wage. Neighborhood Networks looks forward to working with him as mayor to ensure all of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods are included in our city’s progress.”

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Manny Morales will continue his primary challenge to City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez (D-7th dist.), but has lost the official backing of the Democratic Party.

Sanchez called on the party to drop its support after producing Facebook posts she said were made by Morales.

“I would like to thank the Philadelphia Democratic Party for withdrawing its endorsement of Manny Morales. In doing so, the Democratic Party has reaffirmed that Manny Morales’ bigoted attacks have no place in our party or in our city,” she said.

Morales denied making the posts.

“We are appalled by the baseless and fabricated accusations created by the incumbent and her campaign. While it would appear that the alleged remarks were made by a ‘Manny Morales,’ any 12-year-old can manipulate and ‘hack’ or transpose any social media site,” he said.

Sanchez called Morales a “liar.”

Many of the posts would not play well among Democratic voters.

In one post, President Barack Obama is called “inept.” Other posts expressed pro-life views; condemnation of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton; and support for voter identification laws, drug testing for welfare recipients, the verdict in the George Zimmerman case and armed security outside stores in Ferguson, Missouri.

Another post wants authorities to, “Round up every illegal immigrant.”

After a post calling for making English the official language, ending freebies to non-citizens and closing borders, a response by an “Angel Cruz” says, “go back to pr.”

Cruz, a ward leader and state representative, supports Morales, who was raised in Puerto Rico.

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Mayoral candidate Anthony Williams described the statements attributed to Morales as “clearly divisive.”

“It would be repugnant, and scary, if Mr. Morales were allowed to carry the banner of the Democratic Party in public office under these circumstances,” he said.

Williams called on Morales to end his campaign.

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Isaiah Thomas, a Democratic candidate for an at-large City Council seat, has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and Teamsters Joint Council 53.

Earlier, Thomas was endorsed by City Controller Alan Butkovitz, state Rep. Kevin Boyle and former state Rep. Tony Payton.

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Attorney Derek Green, a Democratic candidate for an at-large City Council seat, has been endorsed by Gas Workers Local 686, Transport Workers Union Local 234 and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22.

Green is a former assistant district attorney, deputy city solicitor and special counsel to City Councilwoman Marian Tasco.

“I am running for City Council because I have the experience to get things done with a vision to make things better. In areas like education, poverty, jobs, public safety and quality-of-life issues, I believe that my leadership can improve our city,” he said.

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The Republican City Committee, 3156 Frankford Ave., will hold its second annual Cigar Night on Tuesday, March 31, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

The cost is $95 and includes cigars, open bar, food, free valet parking, a jazz trio and prizes. Call 215–561–0650.

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Joe Torsella, a Democratic candidate for state treasurer in 2016, is calling for tough new reporting measures that would add a vendor’s political contributions to the state contracts database administered by the Treasury Department.

The proposal would let citizens see all information on political giving and state contracts in one place.

“Open and ethical government should have nothing to hide when it comes to the awarding of state contracts,” Torsella said. “It’s an issue where the commonwealth is falling short, and this commonsense proposal would instead make us a leader on ethics and transparency. Pennsylvania currently gets a C-minus rating from an independent nonprofit on state integrity measures. We can and should do much better. By adding political contributions to the Treasury Department’s contracts database and redesigning that tool to make it user-friendly, the next treasurer can be a catalyst for open and transparent record-keeping and full disclosure of all public information related to vendors’ campaign contributions.”

Torsella was the founding president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a nonprofit museum and education center in Philadelphia. He ran for the Democratic nomination in the 13th Congressional District in 2004, but lost to Allyson Schwartz.

Torsella and his wife, Carolyn P. Short, a lawyer, have four children and live in Flourtown.

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Jefferson County President Judge John Foradora is stressing geography in his campaign for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Foradora will seek the Democratic nomination in the May 19 primary. There are three openings.

“Pennsylvania is much more, much bigger, than just Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania has the second-largest rural population in the U.S. — it is time our Supreme Court reflected that population,” he said. “To have a truly balanced court, and to truly clean it up, we need a justice who has seen what life looks like for Pennsylvanians who live in the vast ‘T’ that is often overlooked in elections.”

Foradora was elected in 2001. He was the first Democrat elected to serve as a Jefferson County judge.

“Unlike the other candidates in this race, as president judge of a one-judge county, I have been on the front line of every type of case that can come before the Court — criminal cases, misdemeanors to murder; divorce, custody, dependency, adoptions, property disputes, medical malpractice, contract disputes — you name it, I’ve seen it. I know with my experience and the values I hold deep in my heart I can help clean up our Supreme Court.” ••

Lynne Abraham addressed members of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on Friday. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS