City Commissioner Stephanie Singer's tumultuous first term is shaping up to be her last.
Singer had just 996 signatures on nomination petitions at the end of a four-day legal challenge that wrapped up late Thursday. She needed at least 1,000 signatures from registered Democrats in the city to remain on the May 19 primary election ballot.
Singer's lawyer, Charles Goodwin, said Common Pleas Court Judge Joel Johnson deferred on an order to remove Singer from the ballot, giving her time to file last-minute motions to try to save her campaign.
Richard Hoy, lawyer for the three Democrats who challenged Singer's petitions, said her campaign now wants to challenge the work of a handwriting expert he used in the hearing. Hoy laughed off that attempt, claiming Singer tried to hire his expert before learning he was working for the other side in the challenge.
Goodwin has until Monday to file his motion, said Hoy, predicting that Singer will be removed from the ballot.
"We expect that once everything is said and done, Commissioner Singer will be on the ballot this spring," Goodwin countered.
Singer, who ran as a reformer in 2011, has clashed with her two fellow commissioners and other politicians, including U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the city's Democratic Party.
Hoy was assisted in the long legal challenge by Nick Custodio, a political consultant working for Lisa Deeley's campaign for city commissioner. Deeley, who has worked for City Controller Alan Butkovitz and City Councilman Bobby Henon, has strong backing from the Democratic Party in her race.*
"She lost because she lost," Hoy said of the challenge against Singer. "No one else did it. She put together one of the worst sets of petitions I have ever seen."
Singer filed 1,485 signatures by the March 10 deadline to get on the ballot. Hoy challenged 1,124 of them, questioning the veracity of some voters' signatures on Singer's petitions, along with the addresses and party affiliations they listed. He also challenged the accuracy of addresses listed by at least one person who circulated the petitions on Singer's behalf.
Hoy called Singer's petitions especially "atrocious" because her job as city commissioner is to oversee elections in Philadelphia.
Goodwin and Hoy have vowed to appeal to the state Commonwealth Court if Johnson rules against them in the challenge.