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Suburban eyes are on Phila.

Voters wish they could have a say in city mayor's race.

He's seen the ads on TV, heard the debate on radio, read the news in the paper. Ed Miller of Norristown is ready - and eager - to vote in today's primary for mayor of Philadelphia.

But he can't; he's a suburbanite.

"If I could sneak down and find some dead person whose name I could take, I'd love to vote in the city," Miller said half-jokingly yesterday while grabbing a smoke in front of the Montgomery County government services building in Norristown.

Many other suburban residents, subjected for months to the sound and fury of the Philadelphia race, appear to feel the same way. They are a little envious they won't have a say in the outcome.

Instead, Republicans and Democrats in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Chester Counties will have to content themselves with deciding important but less glamorous party primaries for county row offices, Common Pleas Court judgeships, school boards, borough councils, and township boards of supervisors.

Voters in each of the dozens of suburban school districts will also decide whether they want to adopt an earned income tax for their community as a means of offsetting some property taxes. The tax referendum question is open to any registered voter, whether affiliated with a party or not.

Along with other voters across Pennsylvania, suburban residents will cast ballots in party primaries for two seats on the state Supreme Court and two seats on the state Superior Court.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

John Kennedy, a professor of political science at West Chester University, said suburban turnout probably would be quite low. But he said the mayor's race in Philadelphia had at least drawn the attention of suburban voters to the fact that there is a primary today.

"I'm surprised [the tax referendum] has gained so little attention," he said. "What interest there is - by school boards and antitax groups - is generally lined up against it."

Montgomery County, the largest of the four Pennsylvania suburban counties, has no primary contests for county commissioner. A big interparty battle is expected in the fall, but that's six months away.

In fact, the big fireworks are being saved for Nov. 6 in all four suburban counties. Democrats, growing in number, hope to take control of at least one courthouse in the general election.

Today in Chester County, three Republicans and four Democrats are competing for two nominations for county commissioner by each party.

In Delaware County, six Democrats and six Republicans are vying for three nominations by each party for the County Council.

And in Bucks County, four Democrats are running for two spots on the November ballot for commissioner. The two Republican incumbents, Charles H. Martin and James F. Cawley, have no primary opponents.

Many suburban voters seem to have at least one eye on Philadelphia.

"You hear so much about the mayor's race, how could you not want to make a difference?" asked Michael Fernandes, who works in the Montgomery County Department of Domestic Relations.

"I think I'd like to vote for mayor in Philadelphia," added Bob White, another Montgomery County employee. "I think everybody has an opinion."

Voting Information

In case of a voting problem, help and information is available from county boards of elections:

Philadelphia: 215-686-1590

Bucks County: 215-348-6154

Chester County: 610-344-6410

Delaware County: 610-891-4673

Montgomery County: 610-278-3275

For the Philadelphia primary, a list of candidates, their ballot button numbers and ballot questions can be found at

Any city voter with a complaint may call the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office at 215-686-9643.

Statewide, any voter who wishes to file a formal complaint may call a state hotline at 1-877-868-3772 or go to