Any city resident who'd like to see cleaner government, more innovation and less petty squabbling out of Philadelphia's City Hall has a huge stake in the Council primaries being held Tuesday. All 17 seats on City Council are up for grabs.
A season of discontent in the city's neighborhoods has produced an encouraging yield of challengers to the status quo. The welcome task for Democratic voters is to pick the best of the fresh faces, while being smart enough to retain worthy incumbents who offer stability and experience.
The Republican primary ballot has no contested Council races.
In the crowded Democratic at-large field, where voters can pick five, The Inquirer recommends retaining two incumbents - JIM KENNEY, a neighborhood guy with the ability to think big picture, and WILSON GOODE JR., an independent thinker with a feel for economic development. Also worthy are three newcomers: ANDY TOY, whose work in economic and community development has earned a legion of admirers; MARC STIER, a hard-working, thoughtful voice in the progressive reform community; and DEREK GREEN, a very able former Council aide with a knack for thinking regionally.
In the seven Council districts with contested Democratic primaries, The Inquirer recommends knocking out three incumbents: machine-picked newcomers Carol Campbell in the Fourth and Daniel Savage in the Seventh, and bump-on-a-log Donna Reed Miller in the Eighth.
In the Fourth, MATT McCLURE, a bright young lawyer from East Falls, is an outstanding alternative to the incumbent, who can never seem to bring herself to comply with campaign finance laws.
In the Seventh, MARIA QUINONES SANCHEZ, an impressive education and voter registration activist, is the only Council challenger to earn an endorsement from Gov. Rendell.
In the Eighth, CINDY BASS has a great resume, including stints as a congressional and legislative aide, which earned her a narrow nod over consumer advocate Irv Ackelsberg.
Incumbents whose records deserve Democratic voters' support despite worthy primary challengers are FRANK DiCICCO in the First, ANNA VERNA in the Second, DARRELL CLARKE in the Fifth, and MARIAN TASCO in the Ninth.
With two seats vacant on the state Supreme Court - occasional
seats, at that - Democratic voters can hardly do better than Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge
C. DARNELL JONES 2D
. The Pennsylvania Bar Association notes he is "a nationally recognized judicial expert in matters of criminal law." From across the state on the same ballot, Allegheny County-based Superior Court Judge
DEBRA M. TODD
, earned equal praise from the bar, which noted her integrity.
In the Republican primary, MICHAEL L. KRANCER, former chief judge and chairman of the state's Environmental Hearing Board, offers a stellar academic and professional resume. Also on the Superior Court is MAUREEN LALLY-GREEN, deemed "outstanding" by the state bar.
For Pennsylvania's hardest-working appellate division, Superior Court, Republicans should go with BRUCE E. BRATTON, a Dauphin County judge since 2001. Also: Allegheny County Judge CHERYL L. ALLEN, lauded for her work in juvenile court.
Democrats confidently can choose CHRISTINE L. DONOHUE, also a Pittsburgh commercial litigator, and Philadelphia Judge JOHN M. YOUNGE, credited by the state bar with "a real commitment" to justice.
In the crowded race for four Philadelphia Common Pleas Court seats, former city police integrity office director ELLEN GREEN-CEISLER is everything you would want in a judge. Other good choices: GREG COLEMAN, MICHAEL ERDOS and BEVERLY MULDROW.
For Philadelphia Municipal Court, go with JOSEPH C. WATERS JR. and JOYCE EUBANKS. In the race for Philadelphia sheriff, attorney and real estate developer MICHAEL UNTERMEYER has the edge over the incumbent.
Philadelphia will face a bevy of ballot questions that, for the most part, could be approved without doing any harm. But one deserves a resounding NO - the proposal to scrap the City Charter provision that requires Council members to quit to run for mayor or another office.
The best Democratic choices for Delaware County Council are
. For Republicans, it's
CHRISTINE FIZZANO CANNON
For Bucks commissioner, the best in the Democratic primary are DIANE MARSEGLIA and STEVE SANTARSIERO.
For their commissioners, Chester County Republicans should go with CAROL AICHELE and TERENCE FARRELL. Democrats should vote for KEN KNICKERBOCKER and KATHI COZZONE.