Cohen challenges Solomon’s nominating petitions

State Rep. Mark Cohen (D-202nd dist.) has challenged the nominating petitions of primary opponent Jared Solomon.

Cohen, in office since 1974, beat Solomon by 158 votes in 2014.

Solomon filed about 1,100 petitions. Candidates for state representative need 300 valid signatures to get on the ballot.

Cohen claims Solomon falls short of 300.

“It’s not even close,” he said.

Cohen contends that Solomon will be lucky to have 100 good signatures.

“The race, for all practical purposes, is over,” he said.

A Commonwealth Court judge will hear the case on March 23.

Kevin Greenberg, a lawyer representing Solomon, said his client has 500 to 700 good signatures. He called Cohen’s challenge “silly,” adding that the incumbent has no record to run on.

“He does this as part of his strategy,” Greenberg said.

Cohen said many of the signatures are illegible or from voters who live outside the district,

Solomon said Cohen is distracting voters from issues such as poverty, wages, jobs, housing and quality of life.

“It’s just desperation. He knows how strong a candidate I am,” he said. “This is all just a sideshow. There are big issues to deal with in the Northeast.”

City Controller Alan Butkovitz, Democratic leader of the 54th Ward and a Solomon supporter, predicted that Solomon will remain on the ballot after a line-by-line challenge.

“Cohen’s been doing this for 42 years. He knows better,” Butkovitz said.

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Meanwhile, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 has endorsed Solomon.

FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby said: “Jared Solomon has earned the endorsement of FOP Lodge 5 because of his commitment to safety in his community. He works in his neighborhood through his community group to make his neighborhood safer. Jared is tough on crime and supports local law enforcement. Jared will be a strong voice for us in Harrisburg, and that is why he has our full support.”

Solomon has also been endorsed by Plumbers Union Local 690, International Association of Fire Fighters and Paramedics Local 22, City Controller Alan Butkovitz and the 54th Ward Democratic Committee.

An Army Reserve Officer, Solomon is the founder and president of the Castor Gardens-based Take Back Your Neighborhood civic association.

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Republican Jim Pio officially announced his candidacy for the 172nd Legislative District seat on Sunday afternoon outside his Burholme home.

Pio will face Democratic Rep. Kevin Boyle, who is also running for state Senate. If Boyle wins the Senate primary, he could drop out of the House race, allowing ward leaders to choose his replacement.

Pio was introduced by City Councilman Al Taubenberger. Others on hand included state Rep. Martina White, former congressman Jon Fox, 5th Senatorial District candidate Ross Feinberg and ward leaders.

Pio, 26, is a 56th Ward committeeman and business manager. He began knocking on doors in June.

“We haven’t stopped. Doors are what it’s all about,” he said. “I’ve been here my whole life, I’m doing this for my neighbors.”

Pio’s top issues include crime, taxes and schools.

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Lt. Gov. Mike Stack endorsed state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. for re-election.

“I’m proud to endorse Sen. John Sabatina for the Pennsylvania 5th Senatorial District. He has a proven record as an advocate for Northeast Philadelphia and will continue to fight for his community in Harrisburg. Of the two candidates, he best knows the issues that affect his district. I look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Sabatina won a special election last year to replace Stack. He faces state Rep. Kevin Boyle in the primary.

Sabatina previously served for nine years in the Pennsylvania House, representing the 174th Legislative District.

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Meanwhile, Boyle has received the endorsement of City Councilman Bobby Henon, Democratic leader of the 65th Ward, and City Controller Alan Butkovitz, Democratic leader of the 54th Ward.

“Since heading to Harrisburg in 2010, Kevin Boyle has made the needs of his constituents and improving the quality of life in Northeast Philadelphia his top priority,” Henon said. “He has been a tireless advocate for keeping our communities safe, standing up for working families by fighting to raise the minimum wage and protecting workers rights. He is the right person to represent us in the state Senate, and I look forward to continuing to work together to move Northeast Philadelphia forward.”

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Ross Feinberg, the Republican candidate in the 5th Senatorial District, will hold a Chili Cookoff Smackdown fundraiser on Friday, March 18, from 7 to 10 p.m. at 3118 Englewood St. in Mayfair.

Feinberg, local Republican Party boss Joe DeFelice and others will serve as celebrity chefs. They’ll serve chili with all the fixings, corn bread, beer and wine for $35.

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Armond James, who filed as a Republican candidate in the 13th Congressional District, abruptly dropped out of the race.

For now, Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle is unopposed.

Republicans might choose a write-in candidate, who would need 1,000 votes in the primary to make the general election ballot.

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The Burholme Community Town Watch and Civic Association is inviting candidates to its meeting on Thursday, March 10, at 7 p.m. at Wesley Enhanced Living, 7040 Oxford Ave.

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There is a change.org petition to abolish the city election commission.

Supporters wrote, “Philadelphia City Commissioner Anthony Clark — a guy elected to oversee our elections — doesn’t vote. He doesn’t show up to work. He went to Egypt while on the taxpayer dime. And now, he’s filed for a $500,000 taxpayer-funded DROP payout — even though it was never intended for elected officials. That is outrageous.

“But guess what? Fellow Commissioner Al Schmidt thinks we don’t care. He told the Inquirer, “There was no outrage present” about his colleague’s behavior. We disagree. We think Anthony Clark should be out of a job. In fact, we think the city should abolish the Commissioner’s Office all together — because we don’t need it. Most cities run their elections out of the Mayor’s Office more transparently, with less bias and for less money.”

So far, 1,125 people have signed the petition at

www.change.org/p/darrell-clarke-abolish-the-philadelphia-city-commissioner-s-office

Supporters hope for more signatures, noting that some 15,000 Philadelphians signed a petition to squash City Councilman Mark Squilla’s widely panned bill requiring music bands to register with the city. ••