TOMORROW, voters will be choosing among candidates for mayor, City Council and other offices, as well as three ballot questions. At least one of those questions has the potential for long-needed reform.

1. Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs, headed by a Director of LGBT Affairs?

The city already has such an office, created by Michael Nutter when he became mayor. There's no guarantee of its continued existence once he leaves office, so this question would change the charter to create a permanent office. We hesitate to add to the bureaucracy - and payroll - of city government, just as we did over the May ballot question that established a Commission for Women. And we doubt the presumed Mayor Jim Kenney would dissolve the current office. But the city can lead the way among cities on creating such an office.


2. Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to create a new Department of Planning and Development . . . to oversee the City's planning, zoning, development services and housing and community development functions?

This change could improve the city's current notorious bureaucracy that often makes real-estate development and city planning a nightmare. This new Cabinet-level department would bring logical consolidation to planning, zoning, licensing, inspection, enforcement and housing functions, as well as streamline a process that is now disjointed and maddening. The long-overdue reform has not only gained the support of a wide range of stakeholders - including the administration, developers and housing experts - but those stakeholders seem to be begging for such change.


3. Should the City of Philadelphia borrow ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-FIVE MILLION NINE HUNDRED SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($155,965,000.00) 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 editorial board agonizes over judicial elections - not just because they should be eliminated in favor of merit selection, but because we don't have the capacity to interview judicial candidates and do enough homework to provide credible endorsements. This is especially maddening in a year where a scandal involving pornographic emails has sullied two members of the state Supreme Court: Seamus McCaffery, now retired, and Michael Eakin. That court now has three vacancies. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Bar Association reviews candidates and issues recommendations. In addition, the Inquirer editorial board interviews and endorses candidates.

For this important election, we suggest the Inquirer's endorsements (all of whom come "Highly Recommended" by the bar association): Christine Donohoe, Judith Olson and David Wecht.