Republican city controller candidate outlines agenda

Holmesburg’s Mike Tomlinson calls the beverage tax ‘oppressive to the middle class’ and opposes City Council’s participation in the controversial DROP program.

TIMES FILE PHOTO

By Tom Waring

Mike Tomlinson, the Republican candidate for city controller, outlined his agenda last Thursday during a town hall-style meeting at Holmesburg Recreation Center.

The candidate, who lives in Holmesburg, has worked as a CPA and as a math, accounting and finance teacher in the School District of Philadelphia. He has previously run for the state Senate and House of Representatives.

In this race, his campaign manager is Tara Gontek, and they plan a busy schedule.

“We’ll go everywhere in the city,” he said.

If elected, he vows to audit the School District of Philadelphia each year. He’d also audit the underfunded city pension fund.

“We need controls and a review of every dollar spent before it is spent,” he said.

Tomlinson plans to keep an eye on the growing government, calls the beverage tax “oppressive to the middle class” and opposes City Council’s participation in the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan. He faulted Clarena Tolson, the new executive director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, for creating a job for her daughter’s roommate. The Republican is disturbed that the city has spent more than $50 million to modernize a former insurance company building at 46th and Market streets for the police department’s new headquarters, only to scrap the move to that site.

Philadelphians are “our own worst enemy,” he said, for continuing to re-elect the same people year after year.

Tomlinson is a lifelong Northeast resident whose wife, four daughters, three sons-in-law and six grandchildren all live in the city.

Over the years, he has been a youth sports coach, Sunday school teacher, St. Bernard lector and member of the Tacony Holmesburg Town Watch, Friends of Holmesburg Library and Holmesburg Civic Association. He has worked with the Foundation Fighting Blindness and as an advocate for the homeless and addicted.

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The Pennsylvania Working Families Party endorsed Democrat Larry Krasner to be Philadelphia’s next district attorney, citing his record of championing civil rights and liberties, and his progressive policy proposals to make Philadelphia safer.

“Larry knows that stop-and-frisk policies, mass incarceration and prosecution of low-level, nonviolent crimes not only don’t deter crime, but condemn a significant portion of our city’s residents and families to disrupted lives and diminished life outcomes,” said director Brandon Evans.

The Pennsylvania Working Families Party cited Krasner’s commitment to racial equality and justice as key to its endorsement. Krasner supports ending the death penalty. Among his top priorities are ending cash bail and changing Philadelphia’s civil forfeiture laws. He pledges to protect Philadelphia’s immigrant communities against detention and deportation by federal agencies.

“Like the Pennsylvania Working Families Party, I believe that economic equality and criminal justice reform are intertwined,” Krasner said. “We must end the death penalty, fix the broken bail and forfeiture systems that hurt the poor and end mass incarceration. Truly progressive criminal justice reform will strengthen our communities and our hard-working families.”

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Rich Negrin, a Democratic candidate for district attorney, received the endorsement of the Pennsylvania Democratic Latino Caucus.

“As I’ve said before, I am committed to applying a community-based model to running the district attorney’s office,” he said. “That model recognizes our diversity as a strength, and works and cares for all of us. Having the support of the Democratic Latino Caucus underscores the importance of our community-driven approach. I plan to work collaboratively with people from all backgrounds from all over to make Philadelphia a stronger, safer city. That’s the only way we can make a difference on issues like gun violence, addiction, poverty and mass incarceration.”

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Negrin recently unveiled a community-based approach to the district attorney’s office.

If elected, he would create a Citizen Engagement Unit that works proactively with stakeholders in communities; have members of the office serve as Big Brothers and Big Sisters; establish a Citizens Engagement Academy that provides public safety-related educational programming in schools and neighborhoods; have members of the office adopt a neighborhood, coordinate service projects and perform holiday drives; host expungement clinics for ex-offenders; open a Community Action Center, where citizens can report crimes and knowledge of quality-of-life concerns through a hotline; recognize citizens for outstanding work in the community and on public safety issues; coordinate resumé and interview training sessions as well as job skills training sessions; support community after-school programs and recreation center programs such as the Police Athletic League.

Also, Negrin was recently endorsed by dozens of community leaders from around the city.

“In light of the ongoing campaign from the White House to divide our country by religion, race and creed, it’s more important than ever that we recognize our diversity as a strength and not a weakness,” he said.

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In advance of the April 4 deadline to file full campaign finance reports, Democratic district attorney candidate Joe Khan announced that he has raised more than $500,000.

Khan has more than $440,000 in cash on hand.

“Philadelphians want a district attorney who has a progressive vision for a more fair justice system, the prosecutorial experience to implement it and keep us safe, and the courage to take on the big fights, including standing up to the Trump administration,” he said.

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Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 president John McNesby will host a fundraiser for Common Pleas Court Judge Vince Furlong on Thursday, April 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. at 11630 Caroline Road. Tickets cost $50. Sponsorships are available. Checks can be payable to Judge Furlong Election Committee. To RSVP, call 267–571–5328 or email info@electjudgefurlong.com. Furlong, of Somerton, is running on the Republican and Democratic tickets.

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The Green Party of Philadelphia voted unanimously to endorse Jules Mermelstein for Pennsylvania Superior Court judge.

“In recent years, we have seen the evidence of the misuse of the justice system by both parties in Pennsylvania,” Mermelstein said. “We have seen PA Supreme Court justices being forced to resign. We have seen attorneys general of both parties end up in jail. We have seen a juvenile court judge selling our children to a private prison. And most recently, we have seen the DA of Philadelphia indicted for corruption. The Green Party and I will be reaching out to work with other individuals and groups interested in bringing true justice to Pennsylvania, beginning with my election to the Superior Court in November.”

Mermelstein, a retired attorney and teacher, will run in the Nov. 7 general election.

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On Wednesday, April 12, Philly Set Go will host the city’s only millennial-focused town hall to give voters the opportunity to ask candidates for district attorney about their platforms and priorities. The event is set for 6 to 8 p.m. at Plays and Players Theater, 1714 Delancey Place.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door. All proceeds benefit Community Legal Services.

“It’s rare to have no incumbent in a district attorney’s race,” said Gabriela Guaracao, co-chairwoman of Philly Set Go. “This is a race where millennials could have an impact if they turn out, because there is no incumbent and many of the traditional sources of political power have divided their support amongst all the candidates or have decided not to support anyone at all.”

For tickets or information, go to phillysetgo.com/daforphl2017 ••