City Council hopefuls descend on Somerton

Last week’s Somerton Civic Association meeting featured City Council candidates and a voting machine demonstration.

Incumbent Republican Councilman At-Large David Oh speaks to residents Oct. 8 at the Somerton Civic Association meeting. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

It was an election-themed night at the Somerton Civic Association’s Oct. 8 meeting.

First, there was a demonstration of the new voting machines. Then, 11 City Council candidates pitched themselves to residents about a month before Election Day.

Democrat Judy Moore, of Normandy, who is challenging longtime incumbent Councilman Brian O’Neill in the 10th District, said Northeast Philadelphia has not improved in recent years under O’Neill. She also claimed public schools are unsafe.

“All of my friends and family are leaving the city, all of them,” Moore said. 

O’Neill did not attend the candidates’ night.

Democrat Judy Moore, who is running against Councilman Brian O’Neill in the 10th District, speaks to residents Oct. 8 at the Somerton Civic Association meeting. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Republican Councilman Al Taubenberger, of Fox Chase, who is hoping to grab one of two at-large seats reserved for minority parties, told residents he wants to repeal the soda tax, stop safe injection sites and protect against property tax assessment increases.

Another Republican incumbent, Councilman David Oh, said he is fighting for transparency in the city’s budget and has introduced a bill to reject the most recent property tax assessments.

Republican at-large challenger Matt Wolfe spoke of a “culture of corruption” in City Council, referencing the federal indictment involving Councilman Bobby Henon and a reported FBI investigation into Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.

Bill Heeney, a Republican at-large candidate who lives in East Torresdale, criticized District Attorney Larry Krasner’s handling of the Mumia Abu-Jamal case and treatment of the Faulkner family.

“Anybody that won’t fight for Maureen Faulkner I don’t have the time for,” Heeney said. 

Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks, who has made some noise in the at-large race, touted her public education and housing advocacy.

Long-shot council at-large candidates Joe Cox and Steve Cherniavsky spoke at the meeting.

Democrats Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richardson and incumbent Councilwoman At-Large Helen Gym also addressed the crowd. They are all but assured of winning in November after gaining their party’s nominations in the May primary.

Representatives from the City Commissioners Office showed residents how to use new voting machines that will be rolled out Nov. 5.

Voters will sign in as usual and election workers will give them a card, which they will insert into the machine. After choosing a language, a touch screen will appear so voters can make their selections.

There will still be the option to cast a straight party ticket. 

Representatives from the City Commissioners Office gave a presentation on new voting machines at the Oct. 8 Somerton Civic Association meeting. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Once voters have chosen their candidates, they will hit “next,” which will take them to a page with judicial retentions and ballot questions. All questions will have a “plain English” version, which will simplify the questions by eliminating legal terms.

After hitting print, voters will be able to review their selections on the paper card through a window before submitting. 

Zoning issues

Somerton Civic members voted 40-2 in support of a pair of zoning permits allowing automotive sales, repair, painting and salvage at 2177 and 2179 Bennett Road. Both of the properties are owned by Igor Bykov.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the applications a day after the meeting on the condition that no vehicles are stored outside. 

Bykov’s attorney, Shawn Ward, agreed to a proviso that scrap metal be picked up at least once a week. He also said he would draw up a deed restriction preventing a number of uses on the property, such as a casino or marijuana dispensary, as spelled out by the civic association.

A joint meeting of the Somerton Civic and Greater Bustleton Civic League will be held Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. at American Heritage Federal Credit Union, 2060 Red Lion Road, to discuss the former Budd Company site, 1 Red Lion Road. This will be the second information session held by the community.

Other notes

Two speed cushions on Southampton Road near the Arbours at Eagle Point development are being removed as part of repaving. The rest of the cushions on the road will remain.

The 7th Police District is holding a canned food drive in memory of Police Chaplain Dave Crawford, who recently passed away. Donations can be made Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at House of Kosher, 9806 Bustleton Ave. Residents can also drop off food at the 7th District before that date.

The Somerton Civic Association’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Walker Lodge of the I.O.O.F., 1290 Southampton Road. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at jtomczuk@newspapermediagroup.com.