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Photo by Michael Righi // CC BY 2.0

After nearly a year of scandal and uncertainty, Philadelphia has a new district attorney. 

On Tuesday, Philadelphia voters elected Democrat Larry Krasner, a civil rights attorney, to the city's chief law enforcement office.

Krasner, who has no prior experience as a prosecutor, beat Republican Beth Grossman, a former Democrat and assistant district attorney. 

Krasner's win in the Democratic primary in May, in which he beat Penn Law professor Joe Khan, attracted national attention from high-profile figures like John Legend, a Grammy Award-winning singer and 1999 College graduate, due to his focus on progressive criminal justice reform and his background as a defense attorney. 

"What’s unique about Krasner is that he’s never been a prosecutor, he’s been a defense attorney, he’s been a civil rights attorney," Penn Democrats president and College junior Rachel Pomerantz said. "He brings a completely different perspective to the office that we think is going to shake things up and really help Philadelphia."

He promised to not consider the death penalty for offenders, protect immigrant rights in the city, and avoid requiring cash bail in the trials of non-violent offenders. 

While Philadelphia's crime rate has fallen in recent years, the city has the highest rate of incarceration per capita out of the 10 largest cities in the nation, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer

“I think Philadelphia became a more dangerous city to live in as a result of tonight’s election," Co-Director of Penn College Republicans editorial board and College and Wharton sophomore Michael Moroz said. "I think [Kasner's election is] going to have a damaging effect on the police of the city and therefore it’s going to have a damaging effect on all of the communities in the city, especially the ones that are dealing with issues of crime most acutely."

Republican candidate Grossman has worked for more than 21 years in the DA's office. For eight years, she 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." 

The DA race was especially high-profile this election due to the scandals of former DA Seth Williams, who resigned in June after pleading guilty to charges of bribery, extortion, and fraud. He was sentenced to five years in prison late last month.

City residents also elected Democrat Rebecca Rhynhart to be city controller, a position that serves as the chief auditor of Philadelphia's finances, and elected Republican incumbent Justice Sallie Mundy, who was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf last year to fill a vacated spot on the bench.

Rhynhart has served in numerous City Hall positions, namely as the budget director, city treasurer, and most recently, Mayor Jim Kenney’s chief administrative officer. She beat the incumbent candidate Alan Butkovitz, who has held the position for the past twelve years.

Mundy's win secured her a ten-year term as a justice on the highest court in the state and ensured that the partisan breakdown will remain at 5-2, favoring the Democrats. 

Voters also approved the borrowing of $172 million for the improvement and maintenance of five areas of Philadelphia life including public transit, parks and recreation, and economic and community development. 

This is a developing story that was last updated on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 12:32 a.m. Check back for updates. 

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