Active in his community: Jared Solomon is a U.S. Army JAG officer and founder and president of the Take Back Your Neighborhood civic association. On the issues, Solomon favors a commission to set congressional and legislative district boundaries. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO
Jared Solomon likened the differences between the 2014 and 2016 campaigns to “night and day.”
Two years ago, the lawyer and civic leader challenged veteran state Rep. Mark Cohen (D-202nd dist.) in the primary. He lost by 158 votes.
Solomon never stopped running for the seat, and he and Cohen will square off again in the April 26 primary.
This time, the challenger has the backing of the police, firefighters and plumbers unions, City Councilman Bobby Henon, City Controller and 54th Ward Democratic leader Alan Butkovitz and “more to come.”
“The community response has been really positive,” he said.
The district consists of Wissinoming, Oxford Circle, Burholme, Lawncrest, Lawndale and Castor Gardens.
Solomon, 37, grew up on Rutland Street in Castor Gardens, a corner property that is now his campaign office. He played baseball at Max Myers Playground, ate at the Gingham House and hung out at an arcade at the Roosevelt Mall.
He was raised by his mom, Sharyn, who sent him to Abington Friends School for kindergarten through 12th grade. He attended Swarthmore College and Villanova University School of Law.
It was at Villanova where he first met Tiffani McDonough, a Bucks County native. Years later, they began dating. They are engaged, and looking at a June 2017 wedding date. They’ve lived in a rowhome on the 6600 block of Large St. since October.
“I believe in this neighborhood, I really do, but I don’t like the direction we’re going in this neighborhood,” he said.
Solomon is a U.S. Army JAG officer and founder and president of the Take Back Your Neighborhood civic association. He ran for office two years ago to address issues such as abandoned homes and cars, trash, violent crime, poverty and declining household income.
The candidate recalls a time when Bustleton, Castor and Rising Sun avenues were thriving.
“We had strong, middle-class jobs,” he said.
As a civic association president, Solomon has helped arrange for private security patrols to supplement the work of the 2nd Police District. He’s organized basketball and tennis programs, and brought the Eagles Youth Partnership to Spruance Elementary School to build a playground.
Solomon spent his youth at Max Myers. A mural was recently designed there, and plans call for new play equipment and other much-needed renovations.
“Max Myers hasn’t been touched since I was a kid,” he said.
Solomon has challenged Cohen to five debates, and recently won a court ruling on a challenge to his nominating petitions.
On the campaign trail, Solomon has knocked on doors, sent mailings, held a tele-town hall, appeared on a Spanish radio station and held meet-and-greets at restaurants, churches, homes and VFW posts.
“We have tons and tons and tons of community events,” he said.
On the issues, Solomon favors a commission to set congressional and legislative district boundaries. He faults Cohen, first elected in 1974, for voting for a pay raise and taking full advantage of per diems.
Rank-and-file House members make more than $85,000 a year. Along with great benefits, they can take tax-free per diems for travel and lodging, without having to provide receipts. The per diem rate is at least $159 a day.
“I’m not going to take them,” Solomon said.
Solomon believes the money saved in per diems could go to schools, nonprofits and police and fire departments.
The challenger also believes his opponent could be doing more to pass a compromise budget.
“He’s been there for 42 years,” he said. “He hasn’t passed a piece of legislation in at least two decades.”
Right now, Republicans hold a 119–84 advantage in the House, so Solomon knows he will have to work with the majority to get anything done.
“You need to build coalitions to pass legislation,” he said.
If elected, Solomon said he will aggressively tackle quality-of-life issues.
“I am going to win on April 26th because people want to move this neighborhood in another direction,” he said. “After two years, this neighborhood is going to be on the right track.” ••
Next week’s Northeast Times will feature an article on state Rep. Mark Cohen.
Back for seconds: Two years ago, Jared Solomon challenged state Rep. Mark Cohen in the primary and lost. He will face Cohen once again on April 26. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO