2017 Nov. 7th Election Recommendations

BD contributes down-to-earth analyses of upcoming elections as a regular feature here on Politix.net.

Hey Voters-

If it weren’t for Pennsylvania’s insane practice of choosing judges by popular vote, we would have very few votes to make next week (and this write-up would be much more brief). The vast majority of the races are for judgeships. The handful of exceptions are: the race for District Attorney, the City Controller, and the hyper-local races for Judge of Elections, and Inspector of Elections where you can vote for your neighbors. There are also some ballot measures that need addressing. Keep in mind that because this will likely be a low-turnout election, your vote will be more significant.

Based on what’s going on these days, pushing the straight Democratic button would be totally justifiable, but that’s not how these write-ups are done. Each race and issue are considered separately, and we offer a perspective, (sometimes two).

Here we go:


Justice of the Supreme Court –
#101 Dwayne Woodruff

Of the 7 jurists, 5 are Democrats, and 2 are Republicans, including Sallie Mundy who was an interim appointment and is now running for a full seat on the court. It’s important to remember that many key issues, partisan and non-, like redistricting/gerrymandering and several issues impacting the environment, like gas extraction, and gas leases, may hang in the balance. With a close eye to those issues, Dwayne Woodruff, who is “recommended” by the Pennsylvania Bar, gets our recommendation as well.

Judge of the Superior Court (vote for not more than 4) –
#104 Debbie Kunselman
#105 Geoff Moulton
#202 Craig Stedman
#203 Emil Giordano

All of the above were rated as “highly recommended” by the state bar, and #102 Maria McLaughlin was highly recommended by the Philadelphia Bar Association. Consideration was given to the Green candidate Jules Marmelstein until it was noted that she was “not recommended” for failing to even fill out the survey.

Judge of the Commonwealth Court (vote for not more than 2) –
#207 Christine Fizzano Cannon

Cannon was rated as “highly recommended” while one of the Democrats, Irene M Clark, was rated as “not recommended.”

Judge of the Court of Common Pleas (vote for not more than 9)-
#108 Stella Tsai
#109 Vikki Kristiansson
#110 Lucretia C. Clemons
#112 Zac Shaffer
#113 Deborah Canty
#116 Vincent Furlong

This race does not matter since there are only 9 candidates, but the above 6 are all “recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar. It should be noted that Deborah Cianfrani, Shanese Johnson, and Mark B. Cohen are all “unrecommended” by the Philadelphia Bar.

Judge of the Municipal Court (vote for not more than 2)-
#118 Marissa Brumbach
#119 Matt Wolf

Brumbach and Wolf both “recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar, but again, this race doesn’t matter.

District Attorney-
#121 Lawrence S Krasner

In what should be an apolitical job as DA (though it rarely is), Mr. Krasner feels very much like a political activist, but there’s no doubt he’s on the right side of the vast majority of issues facing our justice system today. It is most heartening that his ideas are aligned with data-proven techniques to reduce crime and improve neighborhoods. Time will tell whether his penchant for controversy and righteousness will be too much, or exactly what the Philly prosecutor’s office needs.

Here’s a look his positions on issues connected to the office of the DA as well as a short video clip with some folks that have endorsed him.

City Controller-
#122 Rebecca Rynhart

It was a little shocking that Rynhart toppled incumbent Alan Butkovitz in the primary, but we offer a strong endorsement for this smart, capable, and experienced candidate again.

Judge of Election-
This is for your hyper-local voting district boss. You’re on your own for this.
Like in the spring, I’m voting for my next door neighbor.

Inspector of Election-
This is for your hyper-local voting district’s underboss. So again, you’re on your own.
I’m voting for my next door neighbor’s daughter (also my next door neighbor).

Proposed Constitutional Amendment –

“Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law?”

All of the smart takes I’ve read on this urge voters to say no. Like so many things, this issue gets very complicated really fast. Simply put, voting yes is more likely to lead to regressive taxation that hurts poor people more than the wealthy, so our recommendation is a NO vote.

City Bond Question-

These are normal and are necessary for the function of the city government.

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 couple of “unrecommended” Municipal Court judges.

Justice of the Supreme Court-
Thomas G Saylor – Yes
Debra Todd – Yes

Judge of the Superior Court-
Jacqueline O Shogan – Yes

Court of Common Pleas-
Linda A Carpenter – Yes
Michael Erdos – Yes
Rosalyn K Robinson – Yes
M Teresa Sarmina – Yes
Ellen Ceisler – Yes
Shelley Robins New – Yes

Municipal Court-
James Maurice De Leon III – No
Nazario Jimenez Jr – Yes
Brad Moss – Yes
Karen Yvette Simmons – Yes
Joyce O Eubanks – Yes
William A Meehan Jr – Yes
David C Shuter – Yes
Marvin L Williams – No
Thomas F Gehret – Yes

Cheat Sheet:

Justice of the Supreme Court – #101 Dwayne Woodruff
Judge of the Superior Court –
#104 Debbie Kunselman
#105 Geoff Moulton
#202 Craig Stedman
#203 Emil Giordano
Judge of the Commonwealth Court – #207 Christine Fizzano Cannon
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas – Anyone *but* Cianfrani, Johnson, or Cohen
Judge of the Municipal Court – doesn’t matter
District Attorney- #121 Lawrence S Krasner
City Controller- #122 Rebecca Rynhart
Judge of Election- up to you (hyper-local)
Inspector of Election- up to you (hyper-local)
Proposed Constitutional Amendment – No
City Bond Question- Yes
Judicial Retention- Skip everyone, *but* vote NO on Municipal Court judges: De Leon & Williams

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