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City Council candidate Devon Cade collapses as hearings begin on challenges to Philly primary petitions

Devon Cade, Philadelphia City Council candidate who filed an unusual series of challenges to the nomination petitions of 30 rivals, collapsed Friday before a judge began proceedings at the Board of Elections.

Devon Cade draws for ballot position out of the coffee can in Room 676 of City Hall, in Philadelphia, Wednesday, March 20, 2019.
Devon Cade draws for ballot position out of the coffee can in Room 676 of City Hall, in Philadelphia, Wednesday, March 20, 2019.Read moreJESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

Devon Cade, a Philadelphia City Council candidate, collapsed Friday morning at the Board of Elections just before a judge was to hear legal challenges he filed against 30 competitors for an at-large seat.

Cade was talking with attorneys for the candidates he challenged when he went down an dsprawled on the tile floor of a makeshift courtroom. He was muttering and sweating while staff and other people there to hear challenges to nomination petitions called for help and tried to comfort him.

Paramedics lifted Cade, 34, onto a stretcher and rolled him out of the courtroom, heading toward Hahnemann University Hospital.

Common Pleas Court Judge Stella Tsai postponed until Monday hearings for the challenges filed by Cade, who is representing himself. His condition could not immediately be determined.

Cade, who ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2006, has claimed he used “artificial intelligence” software to scan and detect forgeries among thousands of signatures filed by candidates on petitions. He had demanded a $1 million bond for anyone who wanted to inspect his equipment.

In other challenges, former Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Willie Singletary represented himself in a challenge to his eligibility to seek a Council at-large seat. Singletary served 20 months in federal prison after being convicted of two counts of lying to FBI agents in a corruption probe.

Article 2, Section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution says people “convicted of embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury or other infamous crimes” are ineligible to hold “any office of trust or profit in the state.”

Singletary based his defense on an interpretation of the constitution that he could be prevented from taking a seat on Council if he wins election but is not prohibited from seeking that post.

“Who’s to say that, if I won, I won’t get a pardon?” Singletary asked Tsai, who did not immediately rule on the case. He later declined to say if he has sought a pardon from President Donald Trump.

Attorney Kevin Greenberg, who filed the challenge, cited previous court decisions to support his claim and decried the “absolute disregard for the constitution by Mr. Singletary.”

Singletary bristled when Greenberg noted that he had been disciplined by state authorities after he resigned from office, before his conviction, amid a controversy because he took a photograph of his penis with his phone and showed it to a Traffic Court employee.

Singletary said Greenberg was trying to “muddy the waters.” Greenberg said the state discipline raised questions about Singletary’s credibility.

In other cases, a challenge filed by Democrat Sheila Armstrong in City Council’s 5th District against Council President Darrell L. Clarke had been withdrawn by her attorney, Sam Stretton, because it was not served by the deadline at the Board of Elections. Armstrong on Friday asked Judge Abbe Fletman to reinstate her challenge. A hearing on a challenge against Armstrong’s candidacy started Friday but was not expected to conclude until at least next week.

In Council’s 10th District, Democrat Taras Smerechanskyy withdrew from the primary and a challenge to his candidacy was dropped. A challenge to Judy Moore, another Democrat in that race, was withdrawn.