By Arielle M. Arlan
Election Day 2015 is here. It’s time to go out and perform your constitutional right as an American citizen and elect those you want to represent you in office. But before you head out to the polls here is a breakdown on what you’re voting for this year in Philadelphia.
Why you need to care: This is who’s going to run the city for the next four years.
Candidates: Melissa Murray Bailey (Republican), Jim Kenney (Democrat)
Current mayor, Michael Nutter, is coming up on the end of his second consecutive term in office which means a fresh face is needed in City Hall come 2016.
Melissa Murray Bailey, though only moved to the city three years ago, has roots in Philadelphia. She comes from a business background as part of the management team of branding company Universum Global. She’s traveled the world as part of her job, living in places like Australia and Singapore. She wants to use her business sense to help create and bring jobs into the city, as well as look at some of the international cities she’s lived in as examples to make the city better.
Jim Kenney is home grown, having grown up in South Philadelphia and attended local schools like Saint Joseph’s Prep and LaSalle University. He has the recognition as a six time elected City Councilman, as well as endorsements from local unions, the Philadelphia Daily News, current mayor Michael Nutter, and current governor Tom Wolf. Kenney plans to create jobs by building up the port systems along the Delaware River, and tackle social issue like the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Why you need to care: The City Council is the legislative body of the city. They create laws and bills that help shape life in the city.
Candidates: Find a full list of Candidates here.
There are seven total seats for the taking this election with two posts reserved for representatives from the minority party. In the case of Philadelphia that means Republicans or Independents. The incumbent members are Republicans David Oh and Denny O’Brien, and Democrats Blondell Reynolds Brown and William Greenlee.
There are some new names to look out for though. One is Independent candidate Andrew Stober, who as an aid for current mayor, Michael Nutter, helped get programs like the Indego bike share program going across the city. Also look for Kristin Combs who is the only Green Party candidate and is a teacher in the Philadelphia School District whose focus is education and energy. With a democratic majority, these two candidates will be fighting the republican incumbents for the two minority seats.
State Supreme Court
Why you need to care: There are three seats available for the highest court in the state. This election outcome could determine which way the court will lean politically as well as the outcome on some big legislation.
Candidates: The democrats are Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty, and David Wecht. The republicans are Anne Covey, Michael George, and Judith Olson.
All of the democratic candidates have a “recommended” or “highly recommended” rating from the PA Bar Association, while the republican side is more split with Olson getting a “highly recommended”, George receiving a “recommended”, and Covey a “not recommended”.
If the name Dougherty sounds familiar it’s probably because you’ve heard of Kevin’s brother, John who is a big name in Philadelphia as the head of the local electricians union. John Dougherty also endorses mayoral candidate, Jim Kenney.
There are big court decisions in the future including funding for the Philadelphia School District, voter I.D. laws, and gun control for the state. Your vote will probably decide the outcome for these cases.
Other races that will be decided will be Register of Wills, Sheriff, and City Commissioners. You can find a whole list of candidates here.
With many high level city positions to fill this election, your vote could really shape what this city will look like in the next four years.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.. If you don’t know where your polling place is all you have to do is put in your address here. Now go out there and vote.
Artwork By Jack Einhorn