The 2014 general elections are a week away and students registered to vote from Main Campus or the surrounding neighborhoods will have the option to choose from a number of city and statewide offices when polls open at 7 a.m. on Nov. 5.
Pennsylvania’s voter identification law, which passed in March 2012 and requires voters to present photo identification to vote, will not be enforced for the third straight election after a judge ruled in August that election workers are not allowed to enforce the law or ask to see ID without requiring it, citing ongoing legal battles over the law’s constitutionality. However, if it is someone’s first time voting in a polling place, a valid ID will still be required.
At the state level, there is one vacancy for the Superior Court. The candidates are Democrat Jack McVay Jr., an Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge, and Republican Vic Stabile, an attorney in Harrisburg.
On the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, two judges are up for retention: Chief Justice Ronald Castille and Justice Max Baer.
In Philadelphia, Alan Butkovitz, a Democratic incumbent, is running against Republican Terrence Tracy Jr. for city controller.
In a questionnaire on the Committee of Seventy’s website, Butkovitz said during his time as City Controller, he has been most proud of “turning the office into the lead local anti-corruption office, identifying the school district financial insolvency years in advance; identifying the errors and problems involved in the property tax reassessment and uncovering a violation of health and safety rules by developers in North Philadelphia.”
Tracy, a retail business manager, said the city controller is one of the least understood but most important offices in the city, and if elected he said he would focus on economic development, school reform and government accountability.
“I will use this office to hold every agency in city government accountable, investigate corruption and mismanagement, look deeply into our finances and challenge city leadership’s core economic assumptions,” Tracy said in his candidate questionnaire.
Another incumbent, Democrat District Attorney Seth Williams, will run against Republican Danny Alvarez for the chief’s prosecuting position.
Williams is running on a 12-part plan to improve the way prosecutors work with the police, the courts and the community. His plan includes assigning a prosecutor to every neighborhood, focusing on the most dangerous criminals, getting guns off the streets, improving teamwork with police and probation officers, protecting witnesses from violent retaliation, helping young men say “no” to crime, prosecuting drug offenders in court, ending prison overcrowding, helping crime victims heal, appointing a chief performance officer, fighting municipal corruption and protecting consumers.
Alvarez’s campaign focuses more on being a watchdog for corruption.
“If you are not safe in your own home or in your own neighborhood, your freedom is crippled,” Alvarez said in his questionnaire, vowing to “investigate and prosecute public corruption, as opposed to waiting for the federal establishment to clean our house for us.”
For the Court of Common Pleas, there are six vacancies in Philadelphia County with seven candidates running to fill them. Democrats Anne Maria Coyle, Giovanni Campbell, Joe Fernandes, Timika Lane, Daniel D. McCaffery and Sierra Thomas Street will run against Republican Kenneth J. Powell Jr.
There are also three vacancies for Philadelphia Municipal Court judge, with only three Democrats running to fill those seats: Fran Shields, Henry Lewandowski and Martin Coleman.
Polling locations are available via Seventy.org, PhiladelphiaVotes.com and most other polling websites.
Sharnita Midgett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.