Upper Holmesburg civic hosts candidate forum

Representatives for district attorney candidates and Mike Tomlinson debated, and Krasner showed up midway through the forum.

The Upper Holmesburg Civic Association last week hosted a candidates forum at St. Dominic’s Marian Hall for the district attorney and city controller candidates.

Times editor Tom Waring asked questions that were researched by the civic association.

The forum started with appearances by Tim O’Brien, on behalf of Republican district attorney candidate Beth Grossman; Liam Riley, representing Democratic district attorney candidate Larry Krasner; and Mike Tomlinson, Republican candidate for city controller.

Grossman and Krasner debated that night, Oct. 19, at La Salle University. Krasner was able to make it to Upper Holmesburg midway through the forum.

Tomlinson, who faces Democrat Rebecca Rhynhart, vowed to provide more oversight of the underfunded pension plan and the School District of Philadelphia, which he said wastes money.

A CPA from Holmesburg whose campaign has little money, he promised to rile the establishment by identifying waste in the city’s general fund.

“I will expose it,” he said.

If elected, he will examine and scale back big city contracts. To control employee health care costs, he’ll use the city’s bargaining power for lower rates. He also plans to combat what he calls “rampant” patronage.

Philadelphia, he believes, needs to have a better business-friendly reputation to be able to attract companies such as Amazon.

One question asked Tomlinson to describe the requirements to become controller.

“The main requirement for this job is to be a Democrat,” he said, half-jokingly.

The last Republican controller was Tom Gola, who left office in 1973.

Tomlinson hopes voters ignore party labels on Nov. 7.

“Vote for the person,” he said.

O’Brien contended that Krasner, a career defense attorney, does not talk often about victims, instead focusing on defendants.

In response to a question about juvenile crime, O’Brien — a former bail commissioner — said if a defendant commits an adult crime, there will be “adult consequences.”

“Some of these 16-year-olds have earned their way to being charged as an adult,” he said.

O’Brien suggested increasing bail on drug dealer suspects and directing the money to a fund to combat the opioid epidemic.

O’Brien said repeat offenders should have to pay cash bail, adding that any elimination of cash bail will be harmful to Philadelphia. He said quality of life will suffer and crime will rise, including witness intimidation.

“It’s lights out, and I can’t say it more emphatically,” he said.

O’Brien told the crowd Grossman spent 21½ years in the district attorney’s office, including heading the dangerous drug unit and the Public Nuisance Task Force.

“Please look at qualifications and experience,” he said. “She’s walked the walk.”

Before Krasner arrived, Riley touted his platform to send violent criminals to jail and to provide job opportunities for less serious, non-violent defendants. For juveniles, he’d look to provide schooling and other services.

Safe injection sites for drug addicts have worked elsewhere, he said, adding that Krasner would favor them for Philadelphia.

Krasner said many homeless suspects should receive mental health treatment, and addicts should be directed to drug treatment facilities.

Krasner rejected O’Brien’s claim that he will let many defendants free without cash bail.

“That’s nonsense,” he said, adding that repeat criminals and wife beaters will be among the suspects who’ll remain jailed. “If you’re a danger, you’re going to sit in jail.”

Krasner said his experience has included working with clergy to lessen gun violence. ••