8 unions throw support behind district attorney candidate O’Neill

Eight unions last week endorsed Jack O’Neill, a Democratic candidate for district attorney, during an event at Plumbers Local 690 on Southampton Road.

In O’Neill’s corner: Jack O’Neill picked up support for district attorney during an event at Plumbers Local 690 on Southampton Road.

O’Neill was backed by the Plumbers, Sprinkler Fitters Local 692, Elevator Constructors Local 5, Insulators and Allied Workers Local 14, Ironworkers Local 401, Communication Workers of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 8 and Reinforced Iron Workers, Riggers and Machinery Movers Local 405.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz and city elections commissioner Lisa Deeley joined O’Neill and union bosses on stage.

“Our job is to make sure Jack gets his name out there,” said John Kane, head of the plumbers union.

Wayne Miller, head of the Sprinkler Fitters, said O’Neill stood out among the candidates interviewed.

“We selected the best player on the field, and that was Jack,” Miller said, using an NFL Draft analogy. “We just couldn’t sit on the side.”

O’Neill promised to appoint a deputy labor liaison within the first 30 days of taking office. The candidate pointed to his 10 years as an assistant district attorney and time spent prosecuting homicide cases.

“I am, by far, the most experienced person running in this race,” he said.

The primary will take place on May 16.

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Michael Untermeyer, a Democratic candidate for district attorney, released a Public Safety and Efficiency plan, outlining his ideas to keep Philadelphians safe.

“It’s clear the system is broken. We can and must do better in working toward the goal of building a city in which all Philadelphians feel safe in their daily lives. I’ve spent most of my career taking on tough fights — from helping to found the Domestic Violence Unit as a Philadelphia assistant district attorney to taking on large criminal organizations in the office of the Pennsylvania attorney general. Right now, we spend too much time going after statistics and not enough time going after the serious criminals and organizations that make our city less safe. For years, I’ve traveled around the country meeting with DAs and other law enforcement officials in order to find the best ideas that are currently being implemented. As district attorney, I’ll put these ideas into action to make a safer and more just Philadelphia.”

Untermeyer’s plan to improve the office calls for building stronger cases against dangerous criminals by elevating violent crimes to a faster prosecutorial track; making victims and witnesses a priority by working toward putting all witnesses on two-hour call for testifying in court, designating a victim coordinator for every hearing room and reworking the Criminal Justice Center so victims and witnesses are not forced to wait with the accused; combating illegal guns and gun crime with an expansion of the Gun Violence Task Force, a crackdown on “straw purchasers” and major advocacy efforts for more effective gun safety measures in Harrisburg; targeting drug and gang violence through prosecuting large criminal organizations and continuing to prioritize violence-prevention programs that work; and regaining the public trust by not accepting any gifts while in office and refusing any campaign contributions from criminal defense attorneys or political action committees with secret donors.

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Joe Khan, a Democratic candidate for district attorney, issued a statement in response to recent investigative reporting by the Inquirer and Daily News into abuses and violence at the Wordsworth residential treatment center for young people, in West Philadelphia.

“Like most Philadelphians, I have become increasingly disturbed as we learn more and more about the horrific acts of violence and sexual abuse that have taken place at the Wordsworth youth facility. Every single one of the dozens of crimes, ranging from sexual assault to homicide, are tragedies in their own right — though almost as disturbing as the crimes themselves is the fact that a clear pattern of systemic abuse did not capture the attention of the district attorney’s office years ago.”

Anyone responsible for covering up crimes at Wordsworth, Khan said, must be brought to justice.

“I hereby renew my promise that as district attorney, my office will take on institutions who betray the trust they have been given to care for children, seniors and inmates. I call upon the district attorney and his staff to open a full investigation into the years of abuse at Wordsworth. If they have not done so by next January, I will. We must expose any and all wrongdoing, and prosecute anyone responsible for committing, abetting or covering up heinous crimes against our children. And make no mistake — these are our children; we have an obligation to protect them as if they were our own. For anyone who has suffered or witnessed in silence, I pledge that if you come forward, I will ensure that your story is heard.”

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Meanwhile, Khan last week was endorsed by former U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

“As a member of Congress and state senator, I had the honor of representing Philadelphians for almost 25 years and I know the importance of electing people who are both qualified and determined to put their experience and commitment to public service to work for the people they will serve. Joe Khan is such a person. Joe will bring his talent and determination to bring fairness, integrity and justice to the district attorney’s office. The son of an immigrant, Joe grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, went to Philadelphia public schools, and will bring a strong sense of purpose to improve the lives of Philadelphians by protecting the rights of citizens in all of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.”

Schwartz said Philadelphians can count on Khan to stand up to violence against women and children because of his 16 years of experience prosecuting rapes, child abuse, sex trafficking and gun violence.

Khan was also endorsed by the 9th Ward Democratic Committee, which consists of Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill.

“The 9th Ward is proud to back a progressive prosecutor in the race for district attorney. Joe Khan will be a champion for every Philadelphian, fighting for criminal justice reform while expanding access to justice for the most vulnerable and marginalized victims in the city of Philadelphia,” said 9th Ward leader Dan Muroff, who is moving to Montgomery County to run for Congress.

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Philly Set Go, a bipartisan political action committee aimed at encouraging millennials to become more involved in state and local politics, on Monday endorsed Democrat Rich Negrin and Republican Beth Grossman for district attorney.

The PAC cited the candidates’ integrity, experience and commitment to improving the criminal justice system and addressing gun violence, substance abuse and other issues that affect millennials.

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City Controller Alan Butkovitz and his Democratic primary challenger, Rebecca Rhynhart, will debate on Tuesday, May 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at Industrious Philadelphia, 230 S. Broad St.

The debate will be co-hosted by The Philadelphia Citizen and the Committee of Seventy. It will be moderated by WHYY Newsworks vice president Chris Satullo, and be streamed live on Facebook.

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Millennials in Action last week endorsed Rhynhart for controller.

Abu Edwards, chairman of Millennials in Action, said, “We are proud to endorse Rebecca Rhynhart for Philadelphia’s city controller. The controller is the fiscal watchdog of our local government and is responsible for making sure government dollars are spent appropriately as well as for auditing city agencies to make sure taxpayer dollars are not being mishandled. Rebecca’s desire to modernize and streamline government will save millions of dollars that can be reallocated toward the services we need.”

Rhynhart was previously endorsed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, former Gov. and Mayor Ed Rendell, the National Organization for Women and the Laborers’ District Council of Philadelphia.

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Conservative Republican businessman Jeff Bartos last week announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Bob Casey Jr.

Bartos, a native of Reading, released a video announcing his campaign. He owns a contracting company and manages several real estate development companies. Previously, he served as a senior executive at Toll Brothers and Mark Group Inc.

“Bob Casey answers to Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, not the Pennsylvanians who sent him to Washington. He’s opposed term limits and voted with radical liberals like Elizabeth Warren 93 percent of the time. Voters have had enough. They want energetic leaders who can use their experience gained in the real world to represent their families and work hard for them every single day,” he said.

Bartos and his wife, Sheryl, have two daughters, Emily and Sarah.

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State Sen. Scott Wagner released a poll on the state of the 2018 Republican primary for governor.

The poll, conducted by McLaughlin and Associates, showed Wagner leading businessman Paul Mango, 42 percent to 13 percent.

In a three-way race, Wagner leads House Speaker Mike Turzai, 38 percent to 10 percent, with Mango at 8 percent.

“Scott Wagner is the clear frontrunner in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary. He holds sizable leads among all opponents in different matchup tests and has a solid base of support across the commonwealth that no other candidate can lay credit to,” said campaign strategist Ryan Shafik. ••