Philadelphia voters will decide who will serve as the city’s District Attorney for the next four years in the general election on Nov. 2.
The District Attorney serves as the city’s chief prosecutor and represents the city in legal battles, deciding what charges should be brought against defendants, according to IGNITE National, an organization dedicated to motivating women to engage in politics and run for elected-office.
Larry Krasner, the incumbent and Democratic candidate, is running for reelection after beginning his first term as DA in January 2018. Krasner won the Democratic primary in May with two-thirds of the vote, The Temple News reported.
Krasner’s campaign did not respond to The Temple News’ request for comment.
Charles Peruto, the Republican challenger, is a Philadelphia-based criminal defense attorney and a former Democrat who voted for Krasner in 2017, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He was the only Republican candidate in the primary election and received nearly 95 percent of the vote, The Temple News reported.
Nearly seven times as many Democrats are registered to vote in Philadelphia County in comparison to Republicans, The Temple News reported.
With the election only nine days away, here’s what you need to know about each candidate.
Larry Krasner (D-Incumbent)
Krasner is in favor of using a public health approach to address gun violence in Philadelphia, rather than mass incarceration, according to his campaign website. This approach includes developing violence interruption programs and remediation in neighborhoods that are most affected by gun violence.
Philadelphia has reported record-breaking levels of gun violence during the past few years — especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began — with 1,504 nonfatal and 380 fatal shootings reported this year as of Oct. 20, according to the Office of the City Controller website.
Socioeconomic factors like poverty, education and inadequate housing contribute to increases in gun violence, according to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence’s November 2020 report.
Krasner wants to address the socioeconomic roots of gun violence by providing trauma counseling, education and job development, according to his campaign website. Krasner will also take a public health approach by requesting funding for hospital trauma centers.
Krasner is also in favor of creating harm reduction centers in an effort to prevent opioid overdoses and promote treatment for people suffering from addiction, according to his campaign website.
Opioid abuse in Philadelphia reached epidemic levels during the past several years which the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating as treatment centers remain closed and emotional and financial stress increase, WHYY reported.
During his first term, Krasner created a database for tracking police misconduct to hold the Philadelphia Police Department accountable for misconduct. If reelected, Krasner will continue to promote accountability in prosecuting crimes by police, according to his campaign website.
There have been approximately 316 complaints of alleged misconduct from Philadelphia police officers in 2021, according to the Philadelphia Police Department Complaints Against Police dashboard.
Krasner is also proposing to stop charging people who did not kill or intend to kill any person under the felony-murder doctrine, which allows a perpetrator of a lesser crime to be charged with murder if a person dies as a result of the incident, even if the perpetrator did not intend to kill. Krasner also wants to end money bail and expand releases for defendants before they appear at trial, according to his campaign website.
Krasner would work to divert juveniles to their homes, communities or juvenile facilities if reelected, rather than incarcerating them, according to his campaign website.
Charles Peruto (R)
Unlike Krasner, Peruto is in favor of incarcerating defendants carrying loaded firearms without a permit on their first offense to discourage others from following their example, he said.
“What is it going to take for us to realize you can’t be nice to criminals, you have to incarcerate them and give them prison sentences to where it is a deterrent to the next one?” Peruto said.
Peruto is also in favor of destroying unregistered guns that are confiscated from defendants, he said.
If elected, Peruto would implement an alternative in Philadelphia to calling 911, that would be run by the DA office, and believes it would result in faster wait times than the city’s current 911 system, which takes about 10 minutes, he said.
“If they’re having a problem with that or there’s too much time waiting for someone to respond, then you would call the DA’s hotline and get an assistant district attorney who knows an emergency, from an emergency or an emergency from somebody who’s panic-stricken and get the right resources there immediately,” Peruto said.
Hospitals and agencies across Philadelphia already offer several alternatives to calling 911 for emergency and non-emergency situations, The Kensington Voice reported.
Peruto is against prosecuting people who suffer from substance abuse. He also wants to convert abandoned prisons into drug rehabilitation centers, which would train and employ local sociology or psychology experts, he said.
Peruto originally voted for Krasner four years ago because he thought Krasner would address corruption, lying and racism in the city’s policing system, he said.
“He’s just made a lot of noise, calling them names in the press but he hasn’t gone after anybody,” Peruto said.
Despite criticizing most of Krasner’s policies, Peruto would continue some of Krasner’s initiatives including the Diversion Unit, which helps people charged with a crime avoid “convictions and collateral consequences” that could be associated with their arrest by having them participate in a program focused on preventing their future involvement in crimes, according to the District Attorney’s Office’s website.