The Holme Circle Civic Association last week welcomed candidates in the May 17 election to its meeting at St. Jerome Church.
In attendance were state Rep. Mike Driscoll, who is unopposed in the 6th Councilmanic District special election; Jim Dillon and Sam Oropeza, the Democratic and Republican candidates, respectively, in the 5th Senatorial District special election; Pat Gallagher and Pete McDermott, the Democratic candidates in the 173rd Legislative District; and Aaron Bashir, the Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District.
State Rep. Ed Neilson wanted to attend, but the House was in session in Harrisburg.
Dillon is a father of two girls and cares for his 83-year-old mom, who has breast cancer. He is a graduate of Our Lady of Calvary, Holy Ghost Prep and Notre Dame, where he played basketball. He is a grant compliance officer with the School District of Philadelphia and owns the Hoops 24-7 basketball academy. He said fellow Democrats such as District Attorney Larry Krasner and Mayor Jim Kenney have not done a good job for the Northeast. He wants to help senior citizens on fixed incomes afford property taxes and prescription drugs. He described himself as “very pro-union” and said he’d work to promote high-wage apprenticeships. Another focus is public safety. “We need more police on our streets to protect us.”
Oropeza is a Monsignor Bonner and Williamson Trade School graduate who runs the nonprofit Rescuing Streets through Clean Ups. He’s a former boxer and MMA fighter. He’s been endorsed by firefighters Local 22, the FOP Lodge 37 state troopers and the state Chamber of Business and Industry PAC and is expecting the backing of Temple police. “Our public safety is our No. 1 priority.” He promised, if elected, to introduce articles of impeachment against Krasner. The father of two described himself as “pro-school choice.” He believes he is the better choice, in part, because he’d be serving in the Senate majority.
Gallagher, a Temple graduate and son of a retired cop and nurse, has been Driscoll’s chief of staff for eight years. “I really do love helping people.” Driscoll and FOP Lodge 5 have endorsed Gallagher. In office, he would promote financial literacy for young people and support better equipment and technology for police officers in the fight for public safety. Public safety, he added, is crucial for the success of businesses along commercial corridors.
McDermott, of Mayfair, is a citizen planner and public high school teacher. He’s married with a young daughter. He called the candidate forum a job interview. “I’m going to work for you.” He criticized Krasner’s preposterous claim that Philadelphia does not have a crime crisis. He faulted the DA for revolving prison door policies, and his campaign literature has a picture of Krasner with a slash through it. He described himself as a “fighter” who in 2015 opposed city efforts to build another prison on State Road. “We never got that seventh prison on the waterfront.”
Driscoll is a St. Martin of Tours and Cardinal Dougherty graduate who has a degree from La Salle and a master’s from Penn. The East Torresdale resident is married with five kids. He worked for eight years for former Gov. Bob Casey, owned Finnigan’s Wake for 17 years and has been a state representative for eight years. He will be filling Bobby Henon’s former seat. He wants better city services for an area that pays one-third of the taxes. “Northeast Philadelphia has been shortchanged for a long time.” He’s led the way in trying to pass a bill protecting volunteer organizations such as Friends of Pennypack Park from being sued frivolously; voted for bills to limit Philadelphia’s DA to two terms and give the attorney general concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute Philadelphia gun crimes; and will be looking for ways to remove abandoned vehicles from streets.
Bashir, a husband and father, was born in Pakistan and came to Philadelphia in 2001. He has a degree from Temple and a master’s from La Salle. He’s worked in the education field and took 39 percent vs. state Rep. Kevin Boyle in 2020. Now he’s challenging U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle. He blames Krasner’s policies for the rising murders and carjackings. He believes the city and country are on a decline because of a lack of Judeo-Christian values, specifically adherence to the Ten Commandments. He promised to never vote to raise taxes. “I’m here because I care,” he said, noting that Brendan Boyle did not attend the meeting.
In other news from the April 27 meeting:
• Deputy city election commissioners Trina Bodnik, who works for Commissioner Lisa Deeley, and Eric Kapenstein, who works for Commissioner Seth Bluestein, spoke about the upcoming election. Bodnik and Kapenstein said the deadline is May 10 to request a mail-in ballot application. Completed ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on May 17. The deputy commissioners said dropbox locations include Pelbano Recreation Center, 8101 Bustleton Ave.; Vogt Recreation Center, 4131 Unruh Ave.; Chalfont Playground, 4382 Deerpath Lane; and the election commissioners warehouse, 11311 Roosevelt Blvd.
In addition to primary and special elections, there will be four ballot questions. Bashir complained about a ballot question seeking approval to, among other things, change Home Rule Charter language from fireman to firefighter and policeman to police officer. The candidate said voters should be asked more important questions on issues such as public safety and education.
A 57th Ward judge of elections was angry that the commissioners no longer supply every polling place with a Bible to swear in poll workers. A woman complained about the lack of a voter ID law.
For more information, call Deeley’s office at 215-686-3460 or Bluestein’s office at 215-686-3464.
• Robert B. Pollock Elementary School, 2875 Welsh Road, will be undergoing renovations. During the 2022-23 academic year, students will learn at the Austin Meehan Middle School building.
• Councilman Brian O’Neill will hold an e-cycling event on Saturday, May 7, from 9-11 a.m. at his office at 7522 Castor Ave. ••