Republican hopefuls seek change

Young republicans held a forum for local candidates to discuss city concerns.

The Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans held a candidates’ forum for republican candidates for City Council on Saturday, Oct. 29. Candidates from the 169th district had a final opportunity to promote their campaigns at the St. Michael Orthodox Church in Northern Liberties.

Speakers included Karen Brown, Denny O’Brien, David Oh, Al Schmidt, Judge Ann Marie Coyle, Michael Untermeyer, Joe McColgan, Al Taubenberger, Lou Harris Jr., Judge Ken Powell and Linda Bateman.

John Featherman, who lost to Brown, the republican candidate for mayor, emceed the event.

Attendees were mostly aides and members of campaigns, although campaign workers said they promoted the event to voters in every neighborhood of the city. Steven Boc, chairman of the Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans, estimated a peak of 50 attendees.

“We expected that we would fill the room, but this is really bad weather,” Featherman said. “Considering the circumstances, we’re happy with it.”

Featherman asked candidates his questions, which they had seven minutes to answer.

“The question will not be a negative question. The question will be about something that has not been brought up,” Featherman said before the speeches began.

Candidates focused on issues of public education reform and business tax breaks to bring industry and manufacturing back to Philadelphia.

Oh, an at-large candidate for City Council, stressed drawing international companies to the city.

“I think it is a very practical thing that we have to do to retain and attract those people with skills and abilities and degrees who are already in our city or want to come to our city for what our city really offers,” Oh said. “We need real money, real dollars.”

Another at-large candidate, McColgan, and candidate for traffic court judge Harris Jr. cited inefficiency on the part of city government.

“I don’t want to tweak the system. I want to blow the system up, because the system is broken,” McColgan said.

The rally focused on improving the republican presence in the city.

There are 127,579 registered republican voters in Philadelphia County out of 1,018,294 total registered voters, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State, as of Oct. 24. There are 798,319 registered democratic voters.

“I truly believe that, as a republican especially, when we win this election, we will have to set a higher standard,” Brown said. “It’s been a long time since a republican’s been there, it’ll be the first time a woman’s been [mayor], and it’ll be since 1869 an incumbent was taken down. So we have to be above board, and we have to be truly ethical when we get in.”

Erik Jacobs, president of Temple University College Republicans, works on Al Schmidt’s campaign for City Commissioner.

Jacobs represented the student organization at the forum.

“I’ve heard it all before, but it’s nice to get it all again one more time before we come down the final stretch,” Jacobs said.

“It’s important to come out and show support of the candidates, and this [event] was kind of different, because they had to answer different kinds of questions,” Jacobs added. “So it was really nice to hear the different kinds of perspectives they had on the issues.”

Amelia Brust can be reached at

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