The Great Expectations project's Deliberation Days events, which are trying to shine a spotlight on Philadelphia City Council elections, wrap up today.
Fifth District candidates Darrell Clarke, John Longacre and Haile Johnston will debate this afternoon at Project H.O.M.E.'s Honickman Learning Center, 1936 N. Judson St. The event starts at 1:30 p.m. with citizen discussion of the mayoral race and casino issue, and straw polls on both. The debate should begin around 3 p.m. The public is invited. Lunch will be served.
A Ninth District debate among Cecil Hankins, Marian Tasco and Raymond Jones Jr. will be held on the same timetable at the Einstein Medical Center, 5501 Old York Rd.
D-Days events began Wednesday and have continued around the city every day since, with debates featuring candidates in both parties' primaries for the seven at-large seats, and the candidates in every contested primary for the 10 district seats.
The goal was to give appropriate attention to elections that are vital to the city's future direction, but can get short shrift amid the noise and drama of a mayoral race.
The results from weekday events showed Michael Nutter to be a big winner in the very informal mayoral straw poll, drawing 60 percent support. The casino straw poll asks the ballot question that so far has been removed from the real May 15 primary ballot. So far, the straw poll is running 3-1 in favor of approving strict limits on casinos.
All the Council candidates' debates were taped so that you can listen to them at your convenience via podcast from the project Web site: http://go.philly.com/greatexpectations. Several are available now; the others will be posted as soon as possible.
Also, beginning this afternoon, First District candidates Frank DiCicco and Vern Anastasio will conduct an online forum on the Web site, answering issues questions, responding to one another, and to citizens' comments. The online forum runs through Friday.
Look for Inquirer endorsements in city and suburban elections this week in the paper: Tomorrow: City Second District; Tuesday, city at-large and Fourth District; Wednesday: Fifth and Seventh Districts, and Chester County Commission; Thursday, Ninth District. The Bucks County Commission endorsement appeared Thursday; the city Eighth District endorsement appeared Friday; the Delaware County Council endorsements appeared yesterday.