One year after a scandal-ridden, contentious presidential election, Philadelphia residents are heading back to the ballots Nov. 7 for another important vote.
One of several positions that voters will have to elect this Tuesday is the new Philadelphia district attorney, who represents the city government in the prosecution of criminal cases.
After facing several allegations of bribery and corruption, former DA Seth Williams announced in February that he would not seek reelection. Four months later, he resigned from his post after pleading guilty to charges of corruption.
Philadelphia residents will also be voting for the position of city controller, nine seats on Philadelphia County's Court of Common Pleas, two seats on the Philadelphia Municipal Court, and for several local election officials. They will also vote to decide whether the city should borrow $172 million to spend on public initiatives such as maintaining the city's streets, transportation networks and municipal buildings.
There are also several important elections happening on the state level for Pennsylvania. These include a race for a seat on the state's supreme court, an election for four seats on the state's superior court, and an election for two seats on the state's commonwealth court. Residents of Pennsylvania will also vote on whether to pass the Homestead Exclusion Amendment, which could reduce property taxes in certain jurisdictions.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and registered voters in line by 8 p.m. will be able to vote. Voters can use the tool below to find their voting location.
For voters still unsure of how to navigate the choices in the polling booth on Tuesday, here’s a guide to the offices up for election:
Philadelphia District Attorney
The DA race has received much public attention, especially since news of Williams' five-year prison sentence emerged in late October.
Larry Krasner, a civil rights defense attorney who champions criminal justice reform, won the Democratic primary this past May, beating out Penn Law professor Joe Khan. Krasner faces Republican Beth Grossman, a former assistant district attorney.
Penn Democrats endorsed Krasner this past April. Penn Dems President and College junior Rachel Pomerantz said the DA race has historically featured candidates who advocate for tougher crime laws and platforms that may perpetuate racial inequality. Pomerantz said Krasner "doesn't just talk about these issues," but has fought against racism in the criminal justice system throughout his entire career.
"By electing [Krasner], we have a real chance to send a message to Philadelphians, the entire country, that we're staking a new ground," Pomerantz said.
Republican candidate Grossman, who is formerly a Democrat, has over 21 years of experience in the District Attorney’s office. For eight years, Grossman also led the Public Nuisance Task Force, which works to "combat drug and alcohol-related nuisance problems in [Philadelphia] neighborhoods."
During her time on the Task Force, Grossman oversaw the use of civil asset forfeiture — a controversial provision that allows DAs to seize the assets of people even if they have not been convicted of a crime. The system has been widely criticized. In March, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said, "This system—where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use—has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses."
College Republicans Vice President and College junior Ryan Snyder said the student group is not heavily involved in local elections, and added that the club does not publicly endorse Grossman.
“As a club and personally, I don't think we can support civil asset forfeiture as a policy decision,” Snyder said. “[But] we think that the other stuff that's she's done throughout her career, particularly compared to the other candidate, that she's still far away the better candidate.”
Despite Philadelphia's largely Democrat electorate, Snyder said he thinks Grossman will be a strong opponent to Krasner.
The Philadelphia city controller serves as the chief auditor of the city’s finances.
Republican candidate Michael Tomlinson, a certified public accountant with corporate and tax accountant experience, will face Democratic candidate Rebecca Rhynhart on Tuesday for this election. Rhynhart has served in numerous City Hall positions, namely as the budget director, city treasurer, and most recently, Mayor Kenney’s chief administrative officer. She won in the primaries over the incumbent controller Alan Butkovitz, who has held the position for the past twelve years.
Pomerantz said she supports Rhynhart and noted that she "sets a positive example," for women and those from underrepresented communities looking to run for public office.
State and City Court Seats
The race for a seat on Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the biggest statewide race on Tuesday.
All voters will opt to either reelect Republican candidate Sallie Mundy or elect first-time Democratic candidate Dwayne Woodruff. This vote will determine whether the partisan breakdown will remain at 5-2, favoring the Democrats, or whether it will shift to 6-1 for the Democrats.
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