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In a crowded conference room in City Hall yesterday, Republican Bruce Marks, a University alumnus, was certified as the winner in the state senatorial race for the Second District by the Philadelphia City Commissioners. A Federal District Judge ruled last week that Marks' opponent in last November's election, Democrat William Stinson, must relinquish his State Senate seat because a significant number of absentee ballots were found to be fraudulent. Two of the three City Commissioners who signed and then handed over Marks' certificate validating his election were alleged by District Court Judge Clarence Newcomer to be directly involved in the election fraud. "It speaks wonders about our court system," said Marks after the ceremony. He is a 1979 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences and a 1984 graduate of the Law School. Marks said he expects to be sworn in as state senator by Friday, in order to participate in the debate on Governor Robert Casey's proposed state budget. The Senate is set to reconvene on March 14, after a month-long recess. "I'm hopeful that I can be sworn in and represent the Second District as soon as possible," said Marks. "We can make sure Philadelphia's Second District gets our share of the pie." Marks' election has upset the balance between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, leaving the GOP with a 26-24 edge. Among other things, this means that the Democrats will lose control of the powerful appropriations committee, which might spell trouble for the Democratic governor's proposed budget and for the University's $35 million funding package. Marks' assistant Joshua Starr said Marks was not yet able to comment specifically on the money currently slated to go to the University, but Marks did say Sunday that he is supportive of the University and higher education in Pennsylvania. The newly-certified Senator pledged to obtain more funding for public schools in his district, especially for the creation of magnet schools, which will draw students from all races and ethnic groups. "I think Republicans will be fair to Philadelphia," Marks said. Marks' lawyer, Paul Rosen, added that although Stinson has appealed Newcomer's decision, there is no threat that the Democrat will regain his seat in the State Senate. Rosen said even if the Stinson campaign and Democratic election officials were cleared of the charges that they conspired to commit electoral fraud, the absentee votes remain invalid. Many absentee voters, most of whom are Spanish speaking, testified that the Stinson campaign explained to them how to vote from home. Other voters in the Second District, which consists of several neighborhoods in and around Northeast Philadelphia, testified that Stinson campaign workers forged signatures on documents and filled out ballots for voters. State law only allows voters to submit absentee ballots if the voter is out of town or is unable to go to the polls on election day. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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