BD’s May 2021 PA Election Analysis & Endorsements


It’s nice that the fate of democracy in our country is not riding on this election. I had countless friends and family members from outside of the city thank Philadelphia for helping get rid of that guy. Somehow, of all the places that voted, we got the most credit. Of course it was only partially deserved since it took over 81 million Americans to do their part, but the lesson is still there that elections matter and voting matters.
I get my thoughts out there twice per year, but you, dear readers, are the ones that make it happen. I know you vote, but I also know that you talk to your friends and neighbors about issues and candidates, so let me thank you for all that you all do.

Justice of the Supreme Court: Maria McLaughlin (#1)

I’m still trying to figure this one out since Maria McLaughlin and Carolyn Nichols are both rated “Highly Recommended” by the PA Bar, but only McLaughlin appears on the ballot. This seems to have happened with several of the judicial races this year, so I’m thinking that some of these candidates dropped out of their race.

Judge of the Superior Court: Timika Lane (#3)

Lane shares the same “Recommended” rating with the other 2 candidates, but has the edge on judicial experience as well as the endorsements from local progressive groups.

Judge of the Commonwealth Court: David Lee Spurgeon (#5)

While you may vote for 2, Spurgeon is the only candidate rated as “Highly Recommended” by the state bar, while 2 of the others are rated as “Recommended”.

Judge of the Court of Common Pleas
(vote for not more than 8)

  • Nick Kamau (#14)
  • Michelle Hangley (#19)
  • John R Padova (#21)
  • Chris Hall (#22)
  • Mark J Moore (#23)
  • Tamika Washington (#24)

There are 5 “Highly Recommended” judges and 7 “Recommended” judges. Most of the merely Recommended judges have good ballot positions, except for Tamika Washington, so she gets my compensation vote to push her up.

Judge of the Municipal Court
(vote for not more than 3)

  • George Twardy (#27)
  • Greg Yorgey-Girdy (#28)

Two of the candidates are recommended and two are not recommended. That means that at least one of the not recommended candidates gets in, but we can try to ensure the two best ones do get in.

District Attorney: Larry Krasner (#30)

The bottom line is that the D.A.’s office needed reform. Krasner’s strategy is to shift resources towards solving and prosecuting serious crimes and away from the lock ’em all up strategy of the past. Krasner is bringing that, and I assume he’s not done yet.

Krasner’s opponent, Carlos Vega, has a similar platform to Krasner, but without the reform credentials. He has no traditional constituency, but is backed by everyone who simply opposes Krasner, including the FOP, the police union that keeps bad cops from being held accountable.

Part of me doesn’t like how Krasner is so openly antagonistic towards the FOP, but I do think that he’s a straight shooter and knows that the union is the main impediment to getting bad cops off the street and rebuilding trust between the police department and the wider public.

If you have the time, do watch Philly D.A., the brand new multi-part PBS documentary about Philadelphia, justice reform, and Krasner, that goes into issues far more in-depth than I ever could.

Controller: Rebecca Rhynhart (#31)

Rhynhart shocked everyone by winning this against the longtime incumbent last time, and she’s generally done a good job, though it’s widely assumed that she will use the Controller’s job as a jumping off point to run for higher office in the future.

Judge of Election: (hyper-local)
This is for your hyper-local voting district boss. You’re on your own for this. I always got to vote for my next door neighbor, but this time it’s my next door neighbor’s daughter, who is also my next door neighbor…. Eh, Philly politics is always familial.

Inspector of Election: (hyper-local)
This is for your hyper-local voting district’s #2 position. You’re also on your own for this.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment #1: No
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration—and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration—through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?

No. This is a power grab by the Republican controlled Pennsylvania Assembly.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment #2: No
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?

No. Just like Question 1, this is a Republican power grab.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment #3: Yes (it’s already federal law)
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual’s race or ethnicity?

Yes (if you want). This is already federal law, so sure, you can put this in the PA constitution, but it’s meaningless.

Question #4 Statewide Referendum – Act 2020-91:  Yes
Do you favor expanding the use of the indebtedness authorized under the referendum for loans to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads under 35 PA.C.S. §7378.1 (related to referendum for additional indebtedness) to include loans to municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies for the purpose of establishing and modernizing facilities to house apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, and for purchasing apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, protective and communications equipment and any other accessory equipment necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the fire companies and emergency medical services companies?

Yes. This has bipartisan support.

Question #5 Proposed Charter Change: No
Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for an expanded Board of License Inspection Review that can hear and decide cases in three-member panels?

No. The present board has a severe backlog and the goal of this change is to create sub-boards of the larger board. But instead of actually fixing the problem, this proposes a workaround to make the board more prone to manipulation and shenanigans. Very Philadelphia.

Cheat Sheet:
Supreme Court Justice- #1 Maria McLaughlin
Superior Court Judge- #3 Timika Lane
Commonwealth Court Judge- #5 David Lee Spurgeon
Common Pleas Judge- #14 Nick Kamau, #19 Michelle Hangley, #21 John R Padova, #22 Chris Hall, #23 Mark J Moore, #24 Tamika Washington
Municipal Court Judge- #27 George Twardy, #28 Greg Yorgey-Girdy
District Attorney- #30 Larry Krasner
Controller- #31 Rebecca Rynhart
Judge of Election- up to you (local)
Inspector of Election- up to you (local)
Question #1- No
Question #2- No
Question #3- Yes
Question #4- Yes
Question #5- No

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