With so many candidates running this May, you’ll need some help finding the right ones.
The Primary ballot on May 21st will be huge. If you are registered as a Democrat, you will vote for up to 6 of 25 candidates for Common Pleas Judge, and up to 5 of 29 candidates for City Council-at-large. Likely most of the names will be unknown to you without doing some homework, which is why some people just vote for the first 5 – not what the founding fathers had in mind.
Don’t be that person – these are four-year jobs at very good salaries paid for by you. Set aside time before the 21st and give democracy and Philadelphia their due. There are lots of great resources available to help you – some are described below
First it is helpful to see what your ballot will look like, and you can do that by going to the City Commissioner’s website (www.philadelphiavotes.com). Select Voters then View a Sample Ballot, enter your street address, and you can view a ballot very close to what you will see on May 21st. Select a different option, Candidates for Office, to see all the offices and candidates in a list format that is a little easier to read than the ballot. If you have a home printer, either of these views could serve as your worksheet to mark up and take with you on election day.
Superior Court: For evaluations and detail about the candidates, go to the Pennsylvania Bar Association website (www.pabar.org). The PA Bar Association evaluates candidates for state level courts. You will find an overview of the evaluation process, ratings for each candidate — Highly Recommended, Recommended or Not Recommended — and a narrative about each.
Common Pleas and Municipal Court: go to the Philadelphia Bar Association website (www.Philadelphiabar.org) for these ratings. Note: the Democratic City Committee regularly endorses candidates that are rated Not Qualified — a good reason to do your own research.
If you are looking for more background and personal detail about these candidates, one website to check out is Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (www.pmconline.org). Go to Resources, then 2019 Judicial Elections. There are links to many of the candidates’ websites.
Remaining offices: For all of the remaining offices start at the Committee of 70 website (www.seventy.org). There will be information for most candidates such as website and Facebook page links, and in some cases bios. Below are some additional suggestions in case you are looking for more, as well as a list of some organization that have made endorsements.
Mayor: if all those TV ads aren’t enough, watch for endorsements in your favorite newspaper such as The Inquirer or Tribune. If you Google the candidates by name you will find significant write ups for each at www.wikipedia.org as well as many news articles.
City Commissioners: there are 13 Democrats running for the 3-member commission. You can vote for 2. Review the candidates at www.seventy.org. Also you can find some community group endorsements at Endorsements below.
Register of Wills: you vote for one – review the candidates at www.seventy.org
Sheriff: you vote for one – review the candidates at www.seventy.org.
City Council-at-large: Philadelphia has 17 council members. 10 represent specific districts and 7 are at-large, with 2 of the 7 positions reserved for minority party members. Democratic voters will be asked to choose up to 5 candidates from a field of 19; Republican voters will be asked to choose up to 5 candidates from a field of 7. Allow yourself time for this one – there are a lot of interesting and qualified candidates, the Committee of 70 website will provide information and you might want to check out which candidates have community group endorsements – see Endorsements below.
District Council: many district-specific council members are running unopposed, but if yours has a challenger and you would like to consider a change, look for their information on the Committee of 70 website. This is the person who will most closely represent you and your neighborhood on Philadelphia issues. Some challengers have significant endorsements – see Endorsements below.
Ballot Questions: There are 4. Usually there is some history and detail that is helpful to consider. The Inquirer will make recommendations on the ballot questions prior to the election and usually provides thoughtful commentary. The Committee of 70 website also provides background information on these questions.
Endorsements: A number of organizations around the city have vetted candidates and announced endorsements, especially in the Council-at-large race. Below are some organizations, outside the political parties which you will certainly hear from, and publications that have already made endorsements or will before the election.
Neighborhood Networks – www.phillynn.org
Reclaim Philadelphia – www.reclaimphiladelphia.org
SE PA Sierra Club – www.sierraclub.org/pennsylvania/southeastern
Philadelphia Inquirer – online at www.philly.com will begin publishing endorsements by May 12th, and will recap them close to the election.
Philadelphia Tribune — online at www.phillytrib.com will be publishing endorsements in the run up to May 21st.
Honor your right to choose the people that represent you in government and be an informed voter on May 21st.