BD’s November 2021 Election Analysis & Endorsements

Hey Voters-

We can hope that he-who-shall-not-be-named is gone for good (though I’m not convinced yet), but what he’s left in his wake is a major American political party that increasingly seeks to gain power through whatever means necessary. They’ve already tested out their gerrymandering, voter disinformation, and voter suppression techniques, and we’re only going to see more. Since Democrats do not control the PA legislative assembly – and likely won’t for some time – it’s even more important that we have a governor and judges that are still dedicated to the idea that it is the people, not a minority of aggrieved agitators, who get to choose those in power.

While the governor’s race is next year, there are some statewide judges up for election this year. Yes, it’s somewhat crazy that we’re electing judges, but since we’re at it, why not make sure they’re pro-democracy?

Here we go:


Justice of the Supreme Court:

101 Maria McLaughlin

Maria McLaughlin is highly recommended and the Supreme Court is where we really need justices that will kneecap Republican efforts to subvert the election system.

Judge of the Superior Court:

102 Timika Lane

Lane is “Recommended” by the PA Bar, and has the same rating as her opponent, so go with Lane.

Judge of the Commonwealth Court (vote for not more than 2):

103 Lori A Dumas

104 David Lee Spurgeon

Spurgeon is the only candidate rated as “Highly Recommended” by the state bar, and Lori Dumas is “Recommended”.
The 2 Republicans are “Recommended” and “Not Recommended”.

Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (vote for not more than 12):

105 Nick Kamau

109 Chris Hall

110 Michelle Hangley

All of the Democratic candidates are running unopposed and they will all be elected, but I’m voting for the “Highly Recommended” judges over the others.

I’m also not voting for any of the 4 “magic seat” nominees that were placed on the ballot solely due to their political connections to the Democratic City committee bigwigs. When judges retire before the end of their terms and it’s too late to have an open primary for the seat, the leaders of the two major political parties each get to submit names that go straight onto the ballot. And in Philadelphia where Ds outnumber Rs by an 8:1 margin, that means the Democratic nominee is guaranteed a win.

This year, one of the magic seats is going to State Senator John Sabatina Jr. whose father, John Sabatina Sr., was one of the ward leaders who got to select Junior for the magic seat.

Oh, and because Sabatina Jr. is a sitting state senator, the state will need a special election to fill his seat too. I’m still trying to find whether that position will be filled via open primary, special election where taxpayers pick up the tab, or whether that position will be “magic seated” itself.

Judge of the Municipal Court (vote for not more than 5):

117 Greg Yorgey-Girdy

119 George Twardy

These are the two “recommended” candidates, while the other 3 are either “not recommended” or magic seat recipients, including the son of a former city councilman.

District Attorney:

122 Larry Krasner

Thank you for the reader input and friends-of-reader input! I engaged in some really good discussions around this race in the spring. Keep the comments coming!

I don’t love Krasner, but the D.A.’s office needed serious reform and of the candidates we’re presented with this year, he’s the best equipped to continue to make those changes.


(no one)

Rebecca Rhynhart is running unopposed. At this point in the race to be the next mayor, she’s the candidate I lean towards, but yeah, we’re still a couple cycles away from that race.

Judge of Election:

This is for your hyper-local voting district boss. You’re on your own for this.

Inspector of Election:

This is for your hyper-local voting district’s #2a and #2b positions, majority inspector and minority inspector. Usually it’s the Democrat that’s the majority, and the minority may be on the ballot or simply appointed by the city to fill this role if there’s no one running. You’re also on your own for this.

Judicial Retention:

The picks below are based on the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations recommendations. Personally, I will skip the yes votes, but vote No on the unrecommended Commonwealth Court judge.

Superior Court:

John T Bender – Yes
Mary Jane Bowes – Yes

Commonwealth Court:

Anne Covey – NO
Renee Cohn Jubilirer – Yes

Court of Common Pleas:

Diana Anhalt – Yes
Denis P Cohen – Yes
Rose Marie Defino-Nastasi – Yes
Charles Ehrlich – Yes
Angelo J Foglietta – Yes
Jonathan Q Irvine – Yes
Elizabeth Jackson – Yes
Vincent L Johnson – Yes
Sean F Kennedy – Yes
Barbara A McDermott – Yes
Margaret T Murphy – Yes
George W Overton – Yes
Edward C Wright – Yes

Municipal Court:

Frank T Brady – Yes
Patrick Dugan – Yes
Charles Hayden – Yes
Christine M Hope – Yes
Sharon Williams Losier – Yes
Joffie C Pittman III – Yes
Craig M Washington – Yes


Proposed Charter Change #1:

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call upon the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Governor to pass legislation that would decriminalize, regulate, and tax the use, and sale to adults aged 21 years or older, of cannabis for non-medical purposes?


No matter how much you want to legalize it, this is a non-binding, pointless resolution that just mucks up the city’s constitution.

Proposed Charter Change #2:

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of a Department of Fleet Services, headed by a Commissioner, to manage all City-owned motor vehicles and City programs concerning alternative vehicle fuel initiatives?


From what I’ve read this doesn’t sound like a slam dunk yes, but it may help the city operate more efficiently.

Proposed Charter Change #3:

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to revise provisions related to the civil service system, to allow the Personnel Director to determine the number of people on an eligible list from which a hiring or promotion decision may be made, and to determine the number of times a person may be passed over and remain eligible on such a list, all based on the position and the needs of the civil service program?


The cynic in me sees this as an invitation to more cronyism, nepotism, political favoritism, and all the other isms. However, the good government group the Committee of Seventy supports this change since it allows the city to better meet its hiring needs and bring it in line with other peer cities.

Proposed Charter Change #4:

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for a mandatory annual appropriation for the Housing Trust Fund?


This ties the city’s hands in an extended financial crisis. Additionally, it’s a cop-out by city council to grandstand for more money for public and low income housing when the best ways to provide affordable housing for more people are land-use policies and a zoning code that works to incentivise it.

Cheat Sheet:

Supreme Court Justice: #101 Maria McLaughlin
Superior Court Judge: #102 Timika Lane
Commonwealth Court Judge: #103 Lori A Dumas, #104 David Lee Spurgeon
Common Pleas Judge: #105 Nick Kamau, #109 Chris Hall, #110 Michelle Hangley
Municipal Court Judge: #117 Greg Yorgey-Girdy, #119 George Twardy
District Attorney: #122 Larry Krasner
City Controller: no one
Judge of Election: up to you (local)
Inspector of Election: up to you (local)
Judicial Retentions: skip except NO for Commonwealth Court’s Anne Covey
Question #1: No
Question #2: Yes
Question #3: Yes
Question #4: No