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The ballot questions in the Philadelphia 2022 general election, explained

This year, voters in Philadelphia will be asked to answer two ballot questions. Here's what they mean.

Here's what to know about the 2022 ballot questions during the general election.
Here's what to know about the 2022 ballot questions during the general election.Read moreCharles Krupa / AP

The 2022 general election is on November 8. Do you have a voting plan?

This year, voters in Philadelphia will be asked to answer two ballot questions. One would result in the creation of a new department to oversee airport operations, and the other would change who gets extra points on the civil service test.

You can also check out our full voters’ guide for information about key races and who’s on your ballot.

Here’s what the ballot questions are and what they mean.

QUESTION 1

Should the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to create the Department of Aviation and to transfer certain functions related to the operations of City airports from the other City agencies to the Department of Aviation?

For context: Philly has two airports, the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE). Their operation, including maintenance, repairs, and improvements, is the responsibility of the Division of Aviation.

This branch is self-sustained — taxpayers don’t finance the airports. Pre-pandemic, over 32 million annual airplane passengers injected $16.8 billion into the economy, leaving the Division of Aviation with a $388 million budget.

Despite having the third largest budget in the city, the division does not have its own department. Rather, it is classified under the Department of Commerce, which makes decisions on conceding contracts, fixing rates to charge airport restaurants , and granting licenses to commercial airlines.

In May 2022, Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration proposed creating a Department of Aviation. At the time, then-outgoing airport CEO, Chellie Cameron, told the Inquirer that both passengers and employees will benefit from it by “quicker delivery of projects and services.”

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson — whose district encompasses Philadelphia International Airport — and Council President Darrell Clarke co-sponsored the bill.

If approved, the new Department of Aviation would be responsible for:

  1. Buying property on behalf of the airports (if approved by City Council).

  2. Capturing more accurate financial data.

  3. Centralizing Human Resources for PHL and PNE employees. According to the airport, this will reduce the probability of having pay or benefits interrupted.

  4. Hiring or letting go of workers.

  5. Creating new jobs, particularly in guest experience, cargo, air service, and development.

The head of the Department will be appointed by the Mayor and will have the capability to sign grants, contracts, and agreements. The Department of Aviation will report directly to the Mayor.

QUESTION 2

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for a preference in civil service examinations for qualified graduates of Career Technical Education programs in the School District of Philadelphia?

For context: Philadelphians looking to work for the city are put into two categories: non-civil service and civil service. A legal clerk or an HR coordinator will fit in the former. But, people looking for jobs ranging from a civil engineer to a radiographer, need to meet the civil service requirements and take a test.

According to Phila.gov, most tests are either multiple-choice, written, job simulations, or done verbally. The idea is to rank people’s abilities and knowledge. Those who pass enter the list of eligible candidates to hire. But, only those who rank “high enough” can be interviewed.

Veterans have perks when it comes to the hiring process. If they pass the test, 10 points are added to their score, ranking them higher.

In 2020, Councilmember At-Large Katherine Gilmore Richardson, whose background is in education, proposed an amendment that would give similar perks to graduates of the city’s career technical education programs (CTE).

The amendment made it to the ballot, but not without disagreement. While Gilmore Richardson, daughter of an Army Veteran, insists the initiative seeks to “solve a problem, not take anything away from anyone else.” Critics argue that the bill is insensitive to veterans, and puts other candidates at a disadvantage.

If approved, CTE graduates who pass the civil service test will be given 5 extra points to their final score.