Getting On Our Soapbox

Recommendations for the 2013 Primary

Today is Election Day in Philadelphia. It is an off year election, and with no high profile office up for grabs, it will likely be one of the lowest turnout elections Philadelphia has seen in quite a while. But I urge you all to vote. The polls are open from 7AM to 8PM. Elections are important, even when the offices aren’t as sexy as President, Governor, or Mayor.

As I do each election cycle, I have put down my thoughts on the election below to be used as a guide for any of my friends looking for advice on who to vote for. Feel free to pull this up on your smartphone in the polling booth to guide you in your voting, or ignore it and vote for whoever you want. Just make me a promise that you’ll vote.

This election cycle we elect many different types of judges, as well as Philadelphia’s top prosecutor, the District Attorney, and our chief fiscal watchdog, the City Controller. Below are my choices in the order they appear on the ballot:


Joseph C. Waters (#101) -- Joe Waters is a sitting Municipal Court judge, and a friend of mine. He is running against a candidate from Pittsburgh for a seat on the Superior Court, which is the last court of appeals before the State Supreme Court. It is significant to note that of the 14 sitting Superior Court Judges, 7 of them are from Pittsburgh. Only one is from Philadelphia. I urge you to vote for the hometown guy, Judge Joe Waters.


Tamika Lane (#106)—Tamika is the general counsel for State Senator Anthony Williams. That means in addition to her years of experience as a public defender, she has valuable experience drafting the very legislation she will be called on to consider on the bench.

Daniel D. McCaffery (#109)—I have known Dan since 2009 when he ran for District Attorney. I did not support Dan, as he was running against Seth Williams who I was supporting and went on to win the election. However, I really began to admire Dan as I got to know him on the campaign. He has experience as a prosecutor and a civil litigator. He has an excellent record on LGBT rights, and I am proud to support him for this office.

Giovanni Campbell (#110)— Giovanni Campbell is of African ancestry with West Indian lineage who moved to the United States from the Republic of Panamá when he was twelve years old. Giovanni is fluent in both English and Spanish, and would bring a multicultural perspective beneficial to Philadelphia's growing diversity to the bench. He is recommended by the Bar Association and has received endorsements from virtually every organization that evaluates and supports judicial candidates. Giovanni is top notch!

Dawn Tancredi (#113)—Dawn has been practicing law for over 12 years and has experience representing individuals and businesses in state and federal courts on the trial and appellate levels in a variety of cases including family, criminal, estate, business and real estate matters.
Kenneth J. Powell, Jr. (#114)—Judge Ken Powell is a respected jurist already serving on the court having been appointed by the Governor to an open seat. He is a well-educated and experienced jurist, who shares my progressive values. He also has bi-partisan support. I feel very strongly about Ken remaining on the bench, which is why he is the only candidate for office this year I am working for. Plus, he wears a bow-tie!

Leon A. King II (#118)—I first got to know Leon when we worked together in the Street Adminstration. He served as the Philadelphia Prisons Commissioner, the first LGBT person to hold that office. He was a fantastic Commissioner and I am convinced he will be a great judge.


Martin Coleman (#128)—My friend Marty is an experienced litigator and a partner at the highly respected Philadelphia law firm Marshall Dennehe. Endorsed by Liberty City, he is a friend of the LGBT community, and volunteers his time with “Musicians On Call” where he plays live music at the bedside of hospital patients. Good dude.

Henry Lewandowski (#129)—His friends call him Hetsi, and I’m proud to be his friend. He is an attorney with a neighborhood practice in South Philly. He is also a member of electrician’s union where he was instrumental in providing free electrical work for two community organizations near and dear to my heart—the Attic Youth Center and the William Way LGBT Community Center.

Shoshana Bricklin (#130)—I got to know Shoshana while she was the legislative director for City Council Majority Leader Curtis Jones. She has a long career working for city council drafting some of the city’s most important legislation—including our Life Partners law. Shoshana will bring a unique perspective to the court, and I highly recommend her.

JUDGE OF TRAFFIC COURT (vote for three)

Inja Coates (#147)—Inja Coates is a well-respected progressive community activist. She is just the kind of person we need to restore confidence back to the beleaguered traffic court.

Marnie Aument Loughery (#155)—Marnie is an old friend and a longtime community activist in Kenssington.

Donna DeRose (#161)—Donna is also a friend of mine. She has worked for the Auditor General for 15 years where she has audited District Magistrates (who act as the traffic court in each of the counties outside of Philadelphia.) She has the necessary experience and will bring honesty and integrity back to the court.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY (vote for one)

R Seth Williams (#163)—Seth is running unopposed for re-election. Regardless, he deserves your vote.

CITY CONTROLLER (vote for one)

Alan Butkovitz (#164)—Even though it will appear at the bottom of the ballot, the race for City Controller is clearly the highest profile race of the election—judging by the shear amount of mail we have gotten from two of the three candidates. The City Controller is the chief fiscal watchdog of the city, and I urge you to support the incumbent, Alan Butkovitz. Alan deserves to be re-elected. He has conducted many significant investigations and audits that have uncovered the need for reform in many city agencies, including:

• An audit of the city’s Emergency Medical Service found that EMS units were arriving late 40% of the time.
• A forensic audit of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office that found millions of dollars in questionable transactions led to federal indictments and serious reforms.
• An investigation of the Philadelphia Charter School system that uncovered significant waste, fraud and abuse.
• A study of the controversial Actual Value Initiative which has raised concerns about the accuracy and fairness of the new property tax assessments.

And while his leading opponent is running on a campaign of improving the transparency of the office, Alan deserves credit for developing and maintaining one of the most comprehensive websites in Philadelphia government. He was the first city official to post campaign finance reports of all candidates online, before the ethics board began doing it. He also created a smartphone app to report waste and abuse, years ago before it became trendy for elected officials to develop their own apps.

I also believe one of Alan’s opponents would be a VERY bad choice for Philadelphia. While I like what BrettMandel has done online with making the city budget more transparent, I think it is important to remember that he has spent the last 10 years taking very anti-progressive stands urging the total elimination of all city business taxes, jeopardizing important city services and threatening to further increase city property taxes. He is also heavily backed by the Post brothers, two local developers hell bent on destroying labor unions in the city and the important role they play in sustaining good middle class jobs.

Tags: elections, democrats