7 candidates join Dems, Republicans in Council at-large race

Seven independent and minor-party candidates filed nominating petitions by last Thursday’s deadline to run for City Council at large.

The candidates are Libertarian Maj Toure, A Better Council’s Sherrie Cohen, independents Joe Cox and Clarc King, Term Limits Philadelphia’s Steve Cherniavsky and the Working Families Party’s Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke.

Joe Cox

Some or all of those candidates could face challenges to their petitions.

The Green Party’s Olivia Faison did not collect enough signatures to get on the ballot, but is running a write-in campaign. She is calling for a Green New Deal in Philadelphia and an end to the “racist” police tactic known as stop and frisk.

Five Democrats and five Republicans were nominated in the May primary.

The top seven finishers are elected.

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City Council at-large candidate Matt Wolfe criticized Mayor Kenney for his refusal to debate his Republican opponent, Billy Ciancaglini.

Wolfe said, “Philadelphia is the birthplace of American freedom. That was only possible through the free debate of ideas among those with differing opinions. Debates are a bedrock of the American political system that allowed him to become mayor of a major U.S. city. Mayor Kenney disrespects our city’s and country’s values by refusing to engage in a meaningful debate of ideas with his only opponent.”

Wolfe, a Republican, is running for one of seven at-large seats. He believes the five Democrats will all win, leaving the five Republicans to battle for the other two seats.

“To show that not everyone in the political process is opposed to political discourse among differing opinions, I am calling for debates among the City Council at-large candidates. All of the Democratic and Republican candidates should participate. We can show Philadelphia that not everyone is as cowardly as Mayor Kenney and we are not afraid to defend our views against differing opinions.”

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U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone last week sentenced former Philadelphia Sheriff John Green to five years in prison for accepting benefits in exchange for giving millions of dollars of business to an individual named James Davis.

Green, 72, was also sentenced to one year supervised release, forfeiture of $76,581 and a $17,500 fine. He pled guilty in April.

A Democrat, Green was elected in 1987 and resigned in 2010 amidst questions about the office’s finances.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, from 2002-11, Green accepted bribes and kickbacks from Davis totaling more than $675,000. The bribes and kickbacks included a home in Philadelphia; employment of Green’s wife as a subcontractor when she started a business in 2004, paying her more than $89,000; facilitation of more than $65,000 in hidden campaign contributions to Green’s 2007 re-election campaign; payment of more than $148,000 in advertising for Green’s 2007 re-election campaign and falsely reporting the payments on the campaign finance reports; and more than $320,000 in payments to Green to assist him with the purchase of his retirement home in Florida.

In exchange, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, Green gave Davis more than $35 million in business at the sheriff’s office through the sale of homes at sheriff’s sales.

“Public officials hold office to serve the public good, not to line their own pockets,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain. “When public servants abuse their authority and flout the rule of law, they disgrace themselves and the offices they hold. That is what Green did here, and he is now paying the price. Every public official should be on notice after today’s sentence: Federal law enforcement is watching, and we will hold you accountable to the law and to the public that you are supposed to serve.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, the IRS and the city Office of Inspector General and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah L. Grieb and Christopher Diviny, and U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Jennifer A. Clarke. ••