Bill Heeney, a Republican candidate for an at-large City Council seat, held a fundraiser Saturday night at the Ashburner Inn.
The $50 fundraiser attracted more than 130 supporters and also served as “A Birthday Bash for Bill,” as Heeney recently turned 60. The Irish band Ballina provided entertainment.
Heeney criticized District Attorney Larry Krasner for what he believes is weakness on crime and Mayor Jim Kenney for doing a dance after a court ruling in favor of Philadelphia’s sanctuary city status. He promised to be a “loudmouth” for change.
“God knows we need it,” he said.
Heeney is a businessman, ward leader and former head of the local tavern association who promises “better days ahead.” He has been endorsed by Plumbers Local 690 and hopes to add other union endorsements and gain support from fellow business owners.
“My background is in business, it’s where I’ve spent my entire adult life. And I’m going to be a friend of labor,” said Heeney, who is married with three children and a granddaughter.
Among those in attendance were mayoral candidate Billy Ciancaglini; judicial candidates Beth Grossman and George Twardy; Pete Smith (who resigned as Tacony Civic Association president the next day to enter the 6th Councilmanic District race); former City Councilman Rick Mariano; former Ancient Order of Hibernians national president Seamus Boyle and other Irish leaders; Republican Party boss Mike Meehan; and ward leaders Chris Vogler, Kevin Pasquay, Tom Matkowski, Fran Woodruff, Scott Waller, Vince Fenerty and Bill Ivers.
On Wednesday night at the United Republican Club, Heeney will be one of eight candidates considered for five endorsements. The others are incumbents David Oh and Al Taubenberger and challengers Matt Wolfe, Dan Tinney, Irina Goldstein, Drew Murray and Steven Vaughn.
Mayor Jim Kenney on Sunday announced re-election in a video.
Kenney touted the city’s investment in public schools, including creation of a no-cost pre-kindergarten program that is serving thousands of low-income families.
The mayor also spoke of a $500 million infrastructure program to improve parks, libraries and recreational centers, funded by the beverage tax.
City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker said, “The ZIP code that you live in should not determine whether or not you value yourself and/or your community.”
Kenney discussed criminal justice reform, specifically a decrease in the prison population by more than 40 percent and closure of the House of Correction.
The mayor bragged about standing up to the Trump administration’s attempts to end Philadelphia’s sanctuary city status.
“In addition to education investments, we’re rebuilding our parks, rec centers and libraries across the city. Philly’s local jail population has gone down by over a third, while the crime rate is at its lowest rate in 40 years. We’re raising the minimum wage to $15 for city workers and we’re expanding job force training. And, I can promise you that I’ll continue to stand up to Trump and ensure that Philadelphia remains a welcoming city,” he said.
Councilman Bill Greenlee, an at-large Democrat, announced Monday he will not seek re-election.
A lifelong Fairmount resident, he was elected in 2006 and re-elected three more times.
“I will continue to promote positive legislation, and my office will continue to serve constituents through 2019,” he said.
Matt Wolfe, a Republican candidate for City Council at large, supports the U.S. Attorney’s recently filed civil lawsuit to stop safe injection sites in Philadelphia.
“Just like the soda tax, City Hall wants to be first to enact the most extreme progressive policies no matter how destructive they may be. Even California’s governor vetoed a bill a few months ago permitting safe injection sites in his state because of the harm they will undoubtedly cause,” he said.
The lawsuit asks a federal judge to declare such a facility as illegal under the federal law known as the “Crack-House Statute,” which makes it a felony to knowingly operate or maintain any place where drugs are used.
“Thank God that the U.S. Attorney is willing to step up here. We are saddled with both a mayor who is willing to jump on any ‘progressive’ idea, no matter how harmful to our citizens in order to get them to vote for his re-election, and the worst district attorney in America,” Wolfe said.
State Reps. Jason Dawkins, Joanna McClinton and Jordan Harris have endorsed Justin DiBerardinis in the Democratic primary for Council at large.
“I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with Justin DiBerardinis, fighting for the neighborhoods of Philadelphia. I know that Justin will work to bring equity and opportunity to every neighborhood in this city, and I am proud to endorse him for City Council at large,” Dawkins said.
Earlier, former Mayor and Gov. Ed Rendell endorsed DiBerardinis.
The Friends of Justin DiBerardinis reported nearly $145,000 in cash on hand as of the end of 2018, leading the field among Democratic challengers and third overall. ••