Philly City Council at Large Candidate Forum
Thursday night I had the opportunity to attend a meet the Republican candidates running for City Council at-large and the two Republican candidates for Mayor event hosted by the Loyal Opposition and Philadelphia Tea Party Patriots in the beautifully decorated hall of the German Society.
The moderator for this event was Larry Mendte, who deftly handled the questions and candidates throughout the evening. You can read his thoughts on the debate at The Philly Post
There are currently 7 At-Large council seats up for grabs. The candidates are vying to be one of the top five vote getters in the upcoming Republican primary election; those selected will face five democrat candidates in the fall. The top seven vote getters in the November election will become the newest At-Large City Council members. Of those seven seats, two are reserved for the minority party, which happens to be the GOP. The two incumbent Republican at-large council members are vulnerable thanks to an energized faction within the GOP and the DROP scandal. Scanning the Committee of 70 City Council Districts and Candidates at-a-glance page, it is staggeringly apparent how much ground the GOP has lost in this city. 7 out of 10 Districts are fielding Democrat candidates exclusively. In addition, the Democrats are fielding 14 At-Large candidates to the Republican’s 9 candidates.
With this in mind, I was absolutely stunned when the incumbent Republican city council-at-large councilman, Frank Rizzo, Jr abruptly left after the candidate introductions. The Republican party barely has a footprint within Philadelphia and the incumbent Republican candidate has no wish to speak to his constituents. Our city and the GOP cannot afford such arrogance.
The debate moved on to more meatier topics, and there were a few down the line questions asked, such as, would you vote for Marian Tasco if she were to run for council president? Candidate David Oh signaled his support of Marian by stating he might vote for her depending on other choices she has made outside of her decision to collect on DROP. Surprisingly there was a mixed response to collective bargaining, with David Oh clearly signaling his support for collective bargaining. The level of squirming was amusing to behold when the candidates were asked to state their support or rejection of a ‘no new tax pledge’. I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t be comfortable pledging something so broad based without 100% certainty. Most of the candidates in the forum have been around the election block before and are too experienced to bite. The candidates were asked if elected what would be the first piece of legislation they would push as councilmen. The responses ranged from term limits to crime reform and tax reform legislation. No one offered any out of the box responses to that question.
The Republican part has such a tenuous political footprint in this city due to the inept leadership of Vito Canuso and Mike Meehan. The best result of the upcoming November election would be replacing the two current incumbent At-Large seats with Pitbulls. I want candidates who will use their seats to challenge the status quo and publicly question the actions of the city council and not to roll over and play dead for four years. I came looking for pitbulls at this debate and was surprised to discover 4 candidates that might fit my requirements. I hope to finalize my endorsements within a week or two.
As per my usual, I did manage to capture video of the debate. I apologize for the quality of the video as I was using my iPhone camera without a tripod. The first video captures the candidates thoughts on pension funding.
Now this peaked my interest – The candidates thoughts on SB1 or School Choice Act:
It says a lot about the lack of character of a candidate when they leave a debate early or simply do not show up as was the case of Karen Brown. This left mayoral candidate, John Featherman in a one to one interview with the moderator, Larry Mendte: