THERE'S a new sheriff in town to try to polish a tarnished badge.
Jewell Williams, a North Philadelphia ward leader and state representative, was elected yesterday to run the beleaguered Sheriff's Office, for which he'll oversee prisoner transports, evictions and sheriff sales of property.
Williams, a father of four, had more than double the votes of his closest challenger, John Kromer.
Kromer had vowed to dissolve the office if he was elected, a move that many watchdog groups praised. But Williams said the primary proved that Philadelphians want a sheriff.
"The public has spoken. They don't want the sheriff's office abolished," said Williams, 53. "I've been charged to keep it transparent. I think the public will see the openness and then we'll get the public's trust. That's what was lacking in the past."
Former Sheriff John Green, who held the office for 22 years, retired in January amid evidence that office had become a fiscal black hole, with millions of taxpayer dollars unaccounted for or not properly dispersed.
In the Republican primary, candidate Joshua West ran unopposed.
In the City Commissioners race, 78-year-old Marge Tartaglione was on the ropes last night after 35 years in office while newcomer Stephanie Singer, a Democratic ward leader and election analyst who has vowed to bring reform to an office that hasn't seen much of it, was a winner.
"I think the voters were saying they were disgusted with business as usual," Singer said last night.
Singer was the top vote getter, while Tartaglione was trailing Commissioner Anthony Clark by more than 900 votes last night.
Singer a former math professor at Haverford College, was the top vote-getter in a field of seven Democratic candidates for the commissioners seats. She said she'd update the office's infamous website and conduct elections in a "modern, scientific way."
Republican incumbent Joseph Duda won nomination to the commissioners office but will face a real challenge in November against reform candidate Al Schmidt.
"The people who give a damn are in the majority," said Schmidt. "This is an otherwise obscure office, but what happened here is good for our city."
Tartaglione, a Democratic ward leader in her native Oxford Circle, was first elected commissioner in 1975 and has overseen elections as chairwoman of the office for decades.
In March, The Citizens of Philadelphia Collection Agency tried to remove Tartaglione from the ballot because of her controversial, six-figure, Deferred Retirement Option Plan payment.
She left office for one day in 2008 to collect the DROP payment, then came right back.