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Vote yes on all four Philly ballot questions | Endorsement

The Inquirer Editorial Board has reviewed and researched the questions that will be on the 2020 election ballot for Philadelphia voters.

A mail ballot is cast during a news conference at a satellite election office at the Liacouras Center last month.
A mail ballot is cast during a news conference at a satellite election office at the Liacouras Center last month.Read moreMONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

Philadelphia voters will see four questions on their ballots right below the candidates for president, Congress, and state offices — three City Charter amendments and one bond approval. The Inquirer Editorial Board has reviewed and researched the questions and recommends that you vote YES on all three.

Question 1: Unconstitutional stop-and-frisk

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call on the Police Department to eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent, meaning an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a person is engaged in criminal activity in order to stop that person, and, therefore, an officer cannot stop someone unlawfully because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religious affiliation or expression, or other protected characteristic?

Declaring that already unconstitutional stops are unlawful under city law might seem redundant, but unfortunately nearly a decade into efforts to eliminate such stops in Philadelphia, it is necessary. This charter amendment will put the Police Department on notice — every unconstitutional stop is not only wrong but a direct violation of the will of the people of Philadelphia. Vote YES.

» READ MORE: Unconstitutional policing — including stop-and-frisk — should have no place in Philadelphia | Editorial

Question 2: Office of Victim Advocate

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to create the Office of the Victim Advocate to advocate for crime victims and to work with victim-services providers to coordinate, plan, train, educate, and investigate issues relating to crime victims?

By creating a cabinet-level Office of Victim Advocate in the city, assistance to victims, functions that are currently spread through the city, state, District Attorney’s Office, and private service providers, can be streamlined. Too often, victim services become wrongly synonymous with more punitive policies and ignore the fact that many people who participate in violence have been victimized themselves. If created, the office’s main focus should be coordinating services and promoting policies that improve connection to services, and not promoting criminal justice policies, as we’ve seen from the state’s office. Vote YES.

Question 3: Citizens Police Oversight Commission

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for the creation of a Citizens Police Oversight Commission, and to authorize City Council to determine the composition, powers and duties of the Commission?

Philadelphia has been experimenting with various models of civilian oversight over police for decades. For this effort to be different, the new Citizens Police Oversight Commission, which will replace the current Police Advisory Commission, will need resources and authority — both in making decisions binding over police in some form and in its ability to access information. Vote YES, and keep pressure on Council to ensure the new body is more than a rebrand.

» READ MORE: For new police oversight commission to work, Philly must learn from its past | Editorial

Question 4: Bond question

Should the City of Philadelphia borrow ONE HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS ($134,000,000.00) to be spent for and toward capital purposes as follows: Transit; Streets and Sanitation; Municipal Buildings; Parks, Recreation and Museums; and Economic and Community Development?

This is a routine question that is required for the city to borrow money. Vote YES.

About Inquirer Endorsements
Prior to each election, the Inquirer’s Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom, identifies the races where an endorsement can help readers understand where candidates stand on issues and why we think voters should support (or not support) a particular candidate.
We think all elections are important and try to cover as many as we can. We research the candidates' backgrounds through the work of our newsroom colleagues, as well as through our own reporting. The Board also hosts meetings with candidates running in contended races, where we ask them about their stance on the issues we think are most important to their constituents. This year, we held virtual meetings with them on Zoom. The meetings are on the record.
We invite your comments on this process and our endorsements at If you’d like your comments to be considered for our letters to the editor page, please include your address and phone number (not for publication) so we can verify your identity.