HomeNewsTorres and legislative candidates pitch their case at Shaare Shamayim

Torres and legislative candidates pitch their case at Shaare Shamayim

Safe injection sites, gun reform discussed at forum

Congregations of Shaare Shamayim hosted its annual candidates forum with appearances by congressional hopeful David Torres and state Reps. Tom Murt and Martina White, along with Daryl Boling and Mike Doyle.

Gaining support: City Councilman Bobby Henon and state Rep. Mike Driscoll endorsed Joe Hohenstein (center) during a news conference outside the candidate’s office last week. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTO

Congregations of Shaare Shamayim, in Bustleton, hosted its annual candidates forum on Sunday, and there were appearances by congressional hopeful David Torres and state Reps. Tom Murt and Martina White, along with their Democratic challengers, Daryl Boling and Mike Doyle, respectively.

The event was organized by Paul Kaplan and moderated by Ruth Horwitz.

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Lisa Deeley, the city elections commission chairwoman and a resident of Baker’s Bay, mentioned that election board workers will be receiving a $20 raise for their work on Nov. 6. She also noted the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Oct. 30.

Torres, a Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle, is a South Bronx native who has worked in small business ventures. He wants to lure investments to the district to create new jobs, such as in the solar energy field and on the docks. He opposes safe injection sites for drug addicts. In response to a question, he opposes a House investigation of 2016 election meddling.

“The investigation is still going on,” he said of the special counsel probe.

Murt, whose district includes portions of eastern Montgomery County and 63rd Ward areas of Bustleton and Pine Valley, was elected in 2006 following the infamous legislative pay raise. He spent 14 months serving in the Iraq War. A bill he introduced to criminalize so-called “revenge porn” was signed into law. He’s been an advocate for adults with special needs and longer treatment stays for opioid abusers. He thanked Chuck Feldman and Steve Korsin, of the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, for arranging for a 99-year-old Holocaust survivor to give a presentation last Thursday at St. Albert the Great Church. In response to a question, he said he is Catholic and pro-life. He invited people to attend his paper shredding and metal drop-off event on Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at St. Albert’s, 212 Welsh Road in Huntingdon Valley.

Boling is a first-time candidate and married father of three. He supports health care for all, access to affordable education at all grade levels and gun reform.

White, of Parkwood, was a financial adviser before winning her seat in 2015. She has sought money for schools, opposed sales and income tax hikes and made outreach to children and veterans. She’s endorsed by the police, firefighters and state teachers unions. In response to questions, she said she is open to a $12 minimum wage and opposes the “enabling” of illegal drug use.

“I am against safe injection sites,” she said.

Doyle, who grew up in Bucks County, spoke of being in recovery for four years. He said his dad, who died recently, was proud of his sobriety.

“I understand this issue like the back of my hand,” he said.

Doyle favors taxing the “1 percent” and described himself as a “Bernie Sanders fan.” One man questioned why he’d be a fan of someone whom some Jews consider to be “anti-Israel.”

City Councilman Bobby Henon and state Rep. Mike Driscoll endorsed Joe Hohenstein during a Friday afternoon news conference outside the candidate’s office near Frankford and Cottman avenues.

State Rep. Jared Solomon, who backed Hohenstein in the primary, was the emcee. He recalled Hohenstein supporting him when he first challenged longtime Rep. Mark Cohen in 2014 and backs him because of his “positive vision for Northeast Philly.”

Others on hand included 55th Ward Democratic leader Bob Dellavella and Isaiah Thomas, a two-time at-large Council candidate and, like Hohenstein, a Frankford High Pioneer.

Henon credited Hohenstein for knocking on some 35,000 doors since last December and praised him for his endorsement by the AFL-CIO.

“You will win this,” Henon said, adding that Council members Mark Squilla and Maria Quinones Sanchez also support Hohenstein.

Driscoll said some lawmakers believe only bad things happen in Philadelphia, though he said the city pays plenty in taxes to the state. He is looking forward to working with Hohenstein and candidates Mary Isaacson and Elizabeth Fiedler on Delaware River issues.

“We need to get more Democrats in Harrisburg,” Driscoll said.

Hohenstein said he will work on issues such as schools, affordable health care, economic security (he favors a minimum wage of $15 an hour) and the opioid epidemic. He will look to bolster constituent services with online availability, a mobile office or office sharing with another lawmaker.

Only partnerships, in Hohenstein’s view, will lead to more jobs and economic development and environmental protection along the Delaware Avenue riverfront.

“We’ve got to bring people together,” he said.

Hohenstein faces Republican Patty-Pat Kozlowski.

Meanwhile, Kozlowski was not happy when state Rep. Mike O’Brien endorsed Hohenstein during a Oct. 4 rally at Campbell Square in Port Richmond. He called her “shameless” for running on the Republican ticket.

She left the following phone message at his district office: “Hey, this is Patty-Pat Kozlowski. This message is for state Representative Mike O’Brien. You fat bastard. Next time you’re dying in Northeastern Hospital and you call someone to feed you Breyers and Diet Coke, lose my number. Really?”

O’Brien died on Monday of a suspected heart attack. He was 64. The death was unrelated to his stay at Northeastern, which closed in 2009. On Saturday, he posted the following on Facebook, with a link to the voice message: “I am so disappointed in Patty Pat who I considered a friend. Since I endorsed her progressive opponent Joe Hohenstein for State Representative in the 177th Legislative District, she’s gone completely unhinged. In my 25 years working in the legislature, I’ve never seen a political candidate morph into a character from Mean Girls. She is not fit to be a legislator! I suggest she take some time off from the campaign to get some rest.”

Kozlowski replied later Saturday, saying she was good enough to sneak vanilla bean ice cream into the hospital, but not good enough to earn his endorsement. A DJ, she recalled promising to play Van Morrison at his funeral. She campaigned for him when he sought to replace Marie Lederer. Then, “You show up at Campbell Square and bash me and endorse a guy who’s never did any of the things we did for our communities — all because he’s a liberal Democrat? What about the neighborhood? What about community?”

The overwhelming majority of Facebook comments were in support of Kozlowski.

Hohenstein issued the following statement following O’Brien’s death: “I was honored to receive Representative O’Brien’s support and that he chose to make his last public appearance when he spoke on my behalf. He served his district well and he will be remembered fondly. My condolences to his family, staff and constituents.”

House Speaker Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, released the following statement: “Rep. O’Brien was a strong voice for the citizens of Philadelphia during his 12 years in the House and a man of common sense and integrity. Despite facing health issues, Rep. O’Brien never stopped working hard for his constituents and the people of Pennsylvania.

“My good friend Rep. O’Brien and I shared a passion for Notre Dame, where his daughter, Bridget, is a Ph.D. candidate, and all things Irish. We will miss his wit and eloquence. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Rita, and children, Bridget and Michael. ‘May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields.’ ”

Kozlowski is also duking it out with Hohenstein in mailings.

A Kozlowski mailer contends Hohenstein will not fight injection sites that allow illegal drug use.

A Hohenstein mailer says, “Patty Pat’s Plan for Our Schools” and includes a picture of her holding a sign that reads, “The Truth: She has no plan for our schools.” It includes a quote that students have “no fundamental right to equality in education,” attributing the words in tiny print to House Speaker Mike Turzai. ••

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