Six candidates attended Sunday morning’s political forum at Congregations of Shaare Shamayim.
Paul Kaplan moderated the forum, and credited Ruth Horwitz, who died in April, for doing such a good job before him. Kaplan also noted the presence of Alan Horwitz, Ruth’s husband, in the crowd.
Below is some of what the candidates said:
• Judy Moore, the Democratic candidate in the 10th Councilmanic District, is a lifelong Northeast resident who graduated from Northeast High School and lives in Normandy. She is married to a 7th Police District cop and has three children. She is challenging Councilman Brian O’Neill. She wants to aid public schools and beef up police patrols, contending that local cops are sent to high-crime areas in other districts. If elected, she would create an advisory board to ensure transparency in land dealings. She specifically pointed to the former Island Green Golf Course, where a giant warehouse is rumored to be coming. “We haven’t been able to get any answers from our elected officials.” She thinks the beverage tax is “way too high,” and would like to find a new way to help fund public schools. She said the property tax abatement for new construction should be reformed to bring more money to schools.
• Like Kaplan, Councilman Al Taubenberger recognized Ruth Horwitz’s contributions to past forums. He is a Penn State graduate who got his start in politics on the campaign of Charlie Dougherty, who was elected to Congress in 1978. He joined Dougherty’s office staff. He said the best part of being on Council is being able to help people. He voted against the beverage tax to support workers at the local Pepsi and Coca-Cola plants, and believes Philadelphia stores have been hurt by consumers shopping outside the city for soda and other groceries. He said the budget surplus could have been used to fund the initiatives supported by the beverage tax. As it is, he said, a West Philadelphia ShopRite closed due to lost revenues. He is chairman of the Aging Committee and has introduced a bill that would give grandparents who are serving as the primary caretakers for their biological or legal grandchildren an annual break on their real estate taxes and would provide an annual real estate tax credit for any grandparent whose financial position requires them to remain in the workforce past retirement age.
• Bill Heeney is a Republican candidate for Council at large. He grew up in Oxford Circle and has been in business for 36 years. He opposed the liquor tax when it was implemented and believes the surplus should have been used instead of the beverage tax to assist schools, playgrounds and libraries. If elected, he promised to be worker and business friendly. He believes real estate taxes should be frozen for senior citizens.
• Matt Wolfe, a lawyer, is a Republican candidate for Council at large. He opposes sanctuary cities, saying they are illegal, add to the tax burden and threaten safety in Philadelphia. He wants to end “Councilmanic prerogative,” which allows Council members to control development in their districts, and the “culture of corruption” in Council. He supports term limits, and has vowed to serve only one term if elected.
• Republican Billy Ciancaglini, 48, described himself as the mayoral candidate who is not Jim Kenney, leading to applause from the crowd. He also received applause when he said he opposed the beverage tax. He opposes property tax hikes on longtime residents, wants to cut down the number of “No Turn on Red” signs and plans to improve the city’s pothole repair and snow plowing systems. He opposes safe injection sites. He plans rehabilitation, job training and housing assistance to help solve the opioid problem. He acknowledges that Democrats have a 7-to-1 voter-registration edge, but said union members and Democrats tell him they support him.
• Councilman Allan Domb recognized the one-year anniversary of the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people. He wants a study to see if a lower beverage tax would result in more consumers staying in the city to do their shopping. He wants to create a business plan for the Northeast. He donates his salary to public schools and has sponsored teachers taking classes to be able to teach financial literacy. He welcomed teachers to call his office at 215-686-3414 to sign up for a course. He wants to make sure food cart vendors are paying taxes to protect retailers. He has introduced bills that would lower the wage tax for low-income workers and limit future Council members to three terms. He believes there should be appraisals when the city buys a property. He described city spending as “out of control,” and was the first person to point out there was $33 million the city could not account for. On another topic, someone in the crowd asked how longtime former real estate radio host Jay Lamont is doing. Domb, who described Lamont as his mentor, said the former host is living in California. ••