On Nov. 2, Philadelphians will vote for who they want to be their district attorney for the next four years, The Temple News reported. District attorneys impact issues like inequalities in crime sentencing, police brutality and changes to cash bail standards.
They control important decisions that affect all Philadelphians. For example, when police reports are filed, they’re given to the district attorney. While police can recommend charges, the district attorney can decide whether to file for criminal charges.
Because the district attorney has a direct effect on residents, all students who are able to vote must do so on Nov. 2. If the district attorney has this significant of an impact, then students should be voting on who they believe will fight for outcomes they want to see made to the criminal justice system.
The candidates for district attorney in the 2021 general election on Nov. 2 are Charles Peruto Jr., the Republican candidate, and Larry Krasner, the Democratic incumbent candidate. Krasner has held the Philadelphia District Attorney title since 2018.
In Krasner’s time as district attorney, he has decreased the jail population, exonerated innocent people, held police accountable for their actions, like corruption and physical abuse, and protected undocumented people living in Philadelphia, according to his campaign website.
Peruto is in favor of incarcerating defendants carrying loaded firearms without a permit on their first offense and destroying confiscated unregistered guns, The Temple News reported.
Peruto is against prosecuting people who suffer from substance abuse, The Temple News reported. Instead, Peruto would like to convert abandoned prisons into drug rehabilitation centers.
While Krasner has been in office, gun violence has increased. This year there have been 1,884 gunshot victims, while in 2018, when Krasner first took office, there were 1,441 gunshot victims.
In recent years, turnout has been abysmal in local elections in Philadelphia. When Mayor Jim Kenney was reelected in 2019, only 27 percent of registered voters participated in the election, according to the Manhattan Institute.
Voter turnout for elections is often determined by electoral competitiveness, election type, voting laws and demographics, according to FairVote, a nonpartisan organization whose goal is to research and advance voting reforms.
In previous years, North Philadelphia has voted disproportionately less for district attorney races than they have for mayoral races, according to Econsult Solutions Inc., a Philadelphia consulting firm.
There are nearly seven times as many Democrats registered to vote as there are Republicans in Philadelphia County, The Temple News reported.
Sydney Parsons, a senior sport and recreation management and geology major, will vote on Nov. 2, she said.
“Philly doesn’t have all that much voter turnout in these elections because it’s such a blue city, and everyone just assumes democrats will be winning them,” Parsons said.
Because voter turn-out for local elections is so low, it’s important that more people participate so that the people elected and their political values will reflect those they serve.
Local officials decide how to allocate resources among the many services that municipalities provide and set budgets for social services and public amenities, said Michael Hagen, a political science professor.
The district attorney outcome affects everyone, said Michael Iwan, a freshman political science major
“It may not affect you right away,” Iwan said. “There may come a point where there’s some massive crime that happened in your county or in your area, and you don’t want them not knowing what they’re going to do and the criminal walking free.”
If you want to see a notable difference in the city, the easiest way to achieve that is through voting.