Election Preview

With less than one week until the election, the Northeast Times takes a final look at candidates.

Democratic and Republican voters will head to the polls next Tuesday to nominate candidates for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. House, the state Senate and state House.

Voters will also choose members of state committee and two city committee people per party, per division.

Independents and members of minor parties will be able to vote on three proposed amendments to the city’s Home Rule Charter.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For a sample ballot or to find information on polling locations, call 215-MU6–1590 or visit philadelphiavotes.com

The big race locally is in the 177th Legislative District.

Republican Rep. John Taylor, first elected in 1984, is not seeking another two-year term. He recruited Patty-Pat Kozlowski, a community activist and former city parks director, to run on the GOP ticket. She is unopposed in the primary.

There are four Democrats in the race. They are immigration attorney Joe Hohenstein; union plasterer Sean Kilkenny; community activist Dan Martino; and Maggie Borski, a law student and daughter of former Congressman Bob Borski.

The 177th District includes Bridesburg, Northwood and portions of Port Richmond, Tacony, West Mayfair, Holmesburg and Lexington Park.

The Democratic Party has not made an official endorsement, with Kilkenny and Hohenstein tying for support during a ward leader caucus, with Borski also having some backing.

Kilkenny, the only candidate to not participate in the one debate of the campaign, has the bulk of the union endorsements and has been a strong presence on television. He’s also sent at least 10 mailings, with two of them deriding Hohenstein’s work in several legal cases and faulting Borski for being a lobbyist.

Howeve, Borski said she has never been a lobbying. She has performed some clerical duties for her dad’s consulting firm.

In his mailers, Kilkenny highlights his working-class roots.

Borski on Tuesday was endorsed by state Treasurer Joe Torsella.

“Maggie is the kind of leader we need in Harrisburg. It’s time that we start electing more young, dynamic, qualified leaders like Maggie who can put an end to the corruption and special interests that have been plaguing our state,” he said.

Borski has a TV commercial, and her mailings have included a letter of support from former Gov. and Mayor Ed Rendell and complimentary words from former congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. She has also been endorsed by state Reps. Donna Bullock and Brian Sims, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, EMILY’s List and AFSCME District Councils 33 and 47.

Martino, who is active with the Olde Richmond Civic Association, has focused on the opioid epidemic, quality-of-life issues and neighborhood beautification in his campaign. He has the top ballot position.

Hohenstein ran in 2016, when he was unopposed in the primary and took 45 percent of the vote against Taylor.

“Over the past three years, I have seen Joe Hohenstein out in my ward reaching out to folks with an energy that you don’t see too often. Joe has helped me re-energize Democrats by showing them that we have the power to elect new leaders that inspire others to get involved in their communities. He is the strongest candidate in this race, and I know he will do the best job taking care of our neighborhoods as state representative,” said Peg Rzepski, leader of the 31st Democratic Ward.

Hohenstein has been endorsed by two other ward leaders in the primary.

Danny Savage, a former city councilman and leader of the 23rd Democratic Ward, said, “I’ve evaluated the different candidates in this race and I am confident that Joe Hohenstein has the experience and determination it takes to win and I pledge to him my full support for the election May 15. Joe and I grew up in the neighborhood together. Joe has always had our backs and has never been afraid to stand up and fight when people need help. As our state representative, I trust him to stand up to Harrisburg Republicans and fight for our city in Harrisburg.”

Connie Dougherty, leader of the 41st Democratic Ward, said, “Joe Hohenstein has a proven record of being able to build communities and bring people together. Joe has proven himself to be someone who gets things done, and he’s proven he has a passion to serve others. He is the only candidate I trust to step up and be a leader for us in Harrisburg. I know that when Joe goes to Harrisburg, he’ll never forget his neighborhood roots and will bring back much-needed resources to our communities.”

State Rep. Jared Solomon endorsed Hohenstein, saying, “As an immigration attorney, Joe embraces the diversity of the Northeast by working every day to allow people the chance to experience the American dream. We need proven leaders to build vibrant, dynamic communities. I look forward to working with him in Harrisburg to bring back resources to our city.”

Hohenstein, who is married with two daughters, has also been endorsed by the following labor unions and organizations: Reclaim Philadelphia, SEIU PA State Council, Working Families Party, Neighborhood Networks, 215 Peoples Alliance, Liberty City Democratic Club, Temple University Faculty Union and the Humane Society of Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, 32BJ SEIU members rallied and canvassed for Hohenstein on Saturday, starting out at Simpson Playground to push their message for more funding for public schools, a minimum wage of $15 an hour, immigrant rights and middle-class jobs.

“Unions are being attacked on every side, but we will not falter. We will not wait until 2020 to see change enacted. We are going to work hard to elect Joe Hohenstein because he has shown he is dedicated to improving education for our children, creating good jobs, and improving wages for working people,” said Laverne Sims, a commercial office cleaner and 32BJ member.

There are eight other state House districts that include portions of the Northeast, but only one with a contested primary.

Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-179th dist.) will face Abu Vincente Edwards in the Democratic primary. No Republican filed.

Republican Rep. Tom Murt will face Democrat Daryl Boling in the general election in the 152nd District.

Rep. Martina White (R-170th dist.) will face Democrat and fellow Parkwood resident Mike Doyle, a Realtor.

Democratic Reps. Kevin Boyle, Mike Driscoll, Ed Neilson, Jared Solomon and Isabella Fitzgerald are unopposed in the primary and general elections.

In the race for U.S. Senate, two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is unopposed in the primary.

Casey will face the winner of the Republican primary between U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and state Rep. Jim Christiana. Barletta has the state party’s backing.

The new 2nd Congressional District will feature a Democratic primary contest between Rep. Brendan Boyle and Michele Lawrence. Boyle has the backing of Northeast ward leaders, though four of them abstained during the vote. Lawrence has been endorsed by state Rep. Curtis Thomas and former state Sen. Shirley Kitchen.

The Republican candidate is David Torres.

State Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-2nd dist.) is unopposed in the primary. Republican Elijah Myers needs 500 write-in votes to earn a spot on the general election ballot.

Gov. Tom Wolf is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The Republican candidates are state Sen. Scott Wagner, Allegheny County businessman Paul Mango and Allegheny County lawyer Laura Ellsworth.

Ellsworth last week unveiled her first television commercial, a 30-second spot that starts with her turning off a TV showing negative ads from Wagner and Mango. She speaks of creating jobs, improving education, breaking the opiate epidemic and reducing taxes and education.

“Mr. Mango and Sen. Wagner might be confused by this spot,” said Ellsworth spokeswoman Brianna Buczkowski. “Laura talks about putting people ahead of politics, creating jobs, bolstering education and reforming Harrisburg. Their attack ads never bother with those things, and they might need a refresher course on the actual issues people care about.”

Also last week, Ellsworth captured the backing of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Patriot-News, of Harrisburg.

The Inquirer on Sunday said Ellsworth “brings depth to her understanding of the issues facing the state.”

“Her understanding of the state’s priorities — job creation, education, workforce development, among others — is supported by fact-finding and realistic thinking that goes beyond sound bites,” the newspaper said.

In the Patriot-News editorial, the paper said Ellsworth “has the character, temperament and vision to lead Pennsylvania Republicans into what’s widely expected to be a difficult fall campaign against Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf.”

The newspaper decried the continuing attack ads traded by Wagner and Mango, and noted Ellsworth has refrained from negative advertising and praised her recently released TV spot.

“The advertisement offered her as a commonsense alternative to Republicans weary of the mud-slinging between the race’s putative front-runners,” the newspaper wrote.

The endorsements come as Ellsworth’s campaign spends $500,000 on positive TV ads. Her campaign claims an internal poll shows her rising rapidly, with about 25 percent of voters undecided.

Ellsworth, in the midst of a statewide campaign swing, said, “Each day seems to suggest an increasing momentum for my campaign, proving that voters want real policy solutions, not negative rhetoric and empty promises.”

The Wagner campaign, with backing from the state party, has knocked on more than 73,500 doors and made some 431,000 phone calls focused on getting out the vote.

Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman Val DiGiorgio said, “Leaders from every county and all of our extraordinary volunteers are looking forward to carrying this momentum past May 15, when we will turn our focus to defeating America’s most liberal governor, Tom Wolf.”

Wagner was recently endorsed by Making America Great Political Action Committee, a grassroots conservative organization of 4,000 members that is dedicated to electing candidates who champion small government policies.

Meanwhile, Wagner has launched a 30-second statewide TV ad highlighting his fiscal conservatism.

Wagner, who owns a waste management business and a trucking company, says, “Pennsylvania is a great state filled with good, hardworking people looking to get ahead. But Tom Wolf wants to raise taxes and take more of your paycheck. I’m Scott Wagner. I sign hundreds of paychecks each week. I see first-hand how much state government takes. I’m blunt, outspoken and determined. I’m a garbageman. You won’t always agree with me, but know this, I’m on a mission to protect your paycheck and cut your taxes, and I will always put you first.”

Last Friday, Wagner reported that he raised $912,000 during the second finance filing period of 2018. He has $2.2 million cash on hand.

“The support I’m receiving has me energized to close out my quest for the Republican nomination and then continue to draw the contrast between how I want to protect the paychecks of hardworking Pennsylvanians with Gov. Wolf’s tax-and-spend agenda,” he said.

Wagner is supporting businessman Jeff Bartos for lieutenant governor.

Mango is teaming up with Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan.

The other Republican candidates for lieutenant governor are longtime conservative activist Peg Luksik and small business owner Kathy Coder.

Ellsworth has not made an endorsement.

There are five Democrats running for lieutenant governor.

The field consists of Lt. Gov. Mike Stack; Braddock Mayor John Fetterman; Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone; Nina Ahmad, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor; and Raymond Sosa, who has worked in emergency management and response and human rights advocacy.

Wolf has not made an endorsement.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was in town last Friday night, rallying outside City Hall for Fetterman, mayor of a tiny borough in Allegheny County.

Sanders said, “For more than a decade now, John Fetterman has been an outstanding progressive leader in Pennsylvania. From early in his career, he has stood with the working families of the state as he advocated for a $15 per hour minimum wage, Medicare for all, ending the failed war on drugs and marriage equality. As mayor of Braddock, John has had the courage to address the striking levels of income and wealth inequality in his city, his state and in our country. John has also been an outspoken defender of women’s health, immigrant rights, racial justice and LGBTQ equality. John is part of a new generation of progressive leaders who are not only prepared to stand up to Donald Trump and his Republican allies, but are offering real solutions to the problems facing working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. We need candidates like John Fetterman in every state, at all levels of government.”

Philadelphia voters will decide on three proposed amendments to the Home Rule Charter.

The questions are below.

“Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to require an appropriation in each annual operating budget of $500,000, or such greater amount as Council decides, to the Police Advisory Commission or any successor body or bodies?”

“Shall the Educational Supplement to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to restore local control by confirming the Board of Education’s independent responsibility to administer the School District of Philadelphia, providing for public participation in the Educational Nominating Panel process, revising eligibility requirements, requiring City Council confirmation of School Board appointments, requiring a stated reason for removing a School Board Member and establishing a Parent and Community Advisory Council?”

“Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for mandatory training for all City officers and employees regarding sexual harassment in the workplace?” ••