Two Democrats will be on the ballot Tuesday in the 173rd Legislative District, seeking to succeed Rep. Mike Driscoll.
Driscoll is unopposed as he runs in a special election on Tuesday in the 6th Councilmanic District, a seat vacant following the resignation of Bobby Henon.
Running to replace Driscoll are Pat Gallagher, his chief of staff, and Pete McDermott, a teacher, Mayfair activist and ward leader. No Republican qualified for the ballot. Driscoll will resign before joining Council, meaning there could be a special election in the summer, with the winner serving about four months.
Gallagher is a graduate of St. Martin of Tours, Cardinal Dougherty (class of 1992) and Temple, with a degree in political science. He’s owned a cheesesteak shop in Manayunk and a bar in Center City, worked in the workers’ compensation field and spent three years as an aide to City Councilman Frank Rizzo, handling constituent services.
A Tacony resident, he spent eight years working for Driscoll before resigning in early March to run for the seat. He credits Driscoll with doing a good job while serving in the minority party.
“Mike’s expertise and guidance will help me hit the ground running,” he said.
If elected, he will keep Driscoll’s office at 8760 Frankford Ave., since it is centrally located under the new district lines. He believes Driscoll assembled a strong staff.
“I’m hoping to keep them,” he said.
Gallagher has the official party backing, with support from ward leaders Connie Dougherty, Pat Parkinson and Henon. He’s also supported by the building trades, the AFL-CIO and the police and firefighters and paramedics unions. As the son of a retired police officer, the FOP Lodge 5 nod was special.
“That meant a lot to me,” he said.
Gallagher, who is also running for committeeman in the 65th Ward, 14th Division, has sent seven campaign mailings to voters. He is pro-choice on abortion and favors a larger focus on vocational education in high schools and more funding for law enforcement and commercial strips.
“I’d love to start reinvesting in our business corridors on Torresdale and Frankford avenues,” he said.
His overall focus would be on the district’s neighborhoods, all east of Roosevelt Boulevard, generally from Tacony to Torresdale.
“Constituent service is as important as any piece of legislation in Harrisburg,” he said.
McDermott is a graduate of St. Matthew and Father Judge (class of 1992). He worked in engineering and construction management before becoming a teacher. He teaches career and technical education at Ben Franklin High School and recently became part-owner of Gaeta’s Tomato Pies, in Rhawnhurst. He lives in Sandyford Park with his wife and young daughter.
During the campaign, he said he’s knocked on thousands of doors, including in the rain.
McDermott is the zoning officer for the Mayfair Civic Association and thinks he can do more in elected office. He’s had some successes, including keeping a seventh prison out of the 19136 ZIP code and stopping proposed rooftop music and valet parking at the restaurant complex at Brous and Cottman avenues.
“They were the right choices for the neighborhood. You’ve got to do what’s right,” he said.
McDermott, Democratic leader of the 64th Ward, said he would be a proactive representative when it comes to constituent services. He’d open a centrally located office, convenient to senior citizens and with parking.
“I’m a local guy. It all starts at home. You’ve got to service the constituents,” he said.
McDermott said the constituents will be his boss.
“I’m going to be an employee of the people,” he said.
McDermott is pro-choice on abortion and is looking forward to, if elected, having input on future riverfront development.
While he believes jobs are important, he thinks a better option would be to build housing, similar to Delaire Landing and Bakers Bay.
“It can all be duplicated. We have the possibility to do that at least once more,” he said.
As the city is phasing out the tax abatement on new construction, McDermott wants to act sooner rather than later.
“There’s no time to waste. Zero,” he said. ••