The city Democratic Party's closed-door choice last year of a vindictive election law violator as Michael Nutter's replacement in City Council's Fourth District revealed the party machine to be just as arrogant and clueless as critics say.

Next Tuesday's primary gives Fourth District voters a chance to undo the insider deal that gave them Carol Ann Campbell.

Their best choice to replace her and send a message to the machine is MATT McCLURE.

Campbell, a ward leader, has been fined for past violations of state election law. The new city Board of Ethics just sued a political action committee she controls, seeking a $39,000 fine for its bad behavior in this election. Stories are legion of her berating people who dare venture onto her West Philadelphia turf with any agenda other than her own.

How in the world could this person be seen as the right representative for a diverse district once so ably served by the reform-minded Nutter?

McClure is a 35-year-old East Falls resident who practices law at a top Center City firm. He's been an aide both in Ed Rendell's City Hall and with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

He's bright, well-prepared and passionate about reforming the way City Hall operates. He's an advocate of bringing the 311 government service hotline to Philadelphia, along with the CitiStat accountability program credited with perking up services in Baltimore. As a real estate lawyer, McClure sees how the city's current zoning and planning chaos ill serves both neighborhoods and good developers who seek to invest in Philadelphia.

The other candidate, Curtis Jones, offers a full resume, with stints in the finance department of W. Wilson Goode Sr.'s adminstration, the Minority Business Enterprise Council, and the Philadelphia Commercial Development Corp. He knows the district, knows a lot of people around the city, and has perfected a very pleasing patter. He'd unquestionably be a step up from the incumbent.

But Jones does not seem to offer as fresh a perspective or as clean a new start as Matt McClure.