STATE REP. Angel Cruz is going after his seventh term in the Legislature facing the same two opponents he had two years ago - retired Police Officer Jonathan Ramos and social worker Anthony Johnson.
For most veterans with party backing, re-election is a cakewalk. But Cruz, 46, defeated Ramos by just 139 votes in 2010 and figures to have another tight race, thanks in part to an ongoing feud with Carlos Matos, a continuing political power in the city's Latino community despite a recent federal-prison term for bribery.
Cruz said he has worked hard to support housing and business development and secure funding for nonprofit groups helping the community. He said he was working with City Councilman Bobby Henon on a program to remove abandoned automobile tires now littering the 180th District, which includes parts of North Philadelphia, Fairhill, West Kensington, Feltonville and Harrowgate.
Ramos, 53, a Feltonville resident, says he should be considered on his own merits - including three years' active service with the Marine Corps and 21 years with the Philadelphia Police, two-thirds of it in the East Division, with similar boundaries to the 180th District.
Ramos said he started the teen court program at Kensington High School, setting up a student-led disciplinary process, and continued working with youths as a community-relations officer. He cites his work co-founding Back to Basics, a movement calling on men "to assume their proper place in society, the male role model as the head of household, not the tail."
Johnson, 43, works at Philly House, a residential halfway house where he helps prisoners reacclimate after years in prison, and he founded Dream Field Academy, a youth-mentoring program. A graduate of Cheyney University, Johnson holds a master's degree in European studies from La Salle and is working on a doctorate dealing with conflict resolution.
Both challengers criticized Cruz for allegedly failing to improve high crime and poverty rates in the district.