State Sen. Christine Tartaglione has represented Philadelphia's Second District, stretching from Kensington to Fox Chase, for two decades, having come into office on the strength of the power her family once wielded in Democratic circles. She has built a reputation for good constituent services while assiduously following her party's unwritten rules. The results are mixed.
When the party rightly supported a minimum-wage hike in 2007, Tartaglione was the sponsor. When a Democrat's vote was needed for congressional gerrymandering that favored Republicans as well as U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic boss, Tartaglione was the vote.
Her party fealty may explain why the senator has few ideas about addressing the scandals plaguing city Democrats, including fellow legislators accused of taking unreported cash gifts. Tartaglione has been a good soldier, but Philadelphia needs a new army.
In a district where family and politics appear inseparable, Tartaglione's opponents for the Democratic nomination on May 20 are Tomas Sanchez, an attorney and the husband of City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sanchez, and Daniel Savage, a former city councilman who holds his father's old ward leader position. (Republican candidate John Jenkins is unopposed in the primary.) Of them, TOMAS SANCHEZ is most likely to challenge the status quo and bring creative ideas to Harrisburg.
The Ivy League-educated Sanchez is still connected to the hardscrabble streets of the district where he grew up and is raising his family. His policy proposals include a pilot program creating an independent city school district, a plan for attracting new businesses using tax breaks and specialized training, and measures to fight blight with urban farming and green technology. He also supports providing police departments with computer software to better analyze crime patterns, helping cities buy more surveillance cameras, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, and targeting chronic violent offenders.
Sanchez is a thoughtful pragmatist who is likely to work well with legislators from both parties to advance Philadelphia's cause in the capital. And that would be a welcome departure.