For the second time in less than a year, Philadelphia’s Democratic Party on Friday chose a nominee for a special election in the 190th State House District, its seat again vacant because of corruption charges. The winner to carry the banner in that Feb. 25 contest is G. Roni Green, a business agent for SEIU Local 668.
Seven Democratic ward leaders with divisions in the district spent 90 minutes in the afternoon interviewing nine candidates for the nomination — though one, former State Rep. Michael Horsey, sent his daughter in his stead. Then the party barons spent 25 more minutes in debate and voting as the contenders waited outside, where raised voices could be heard.
Green, who was considered a front-runner when the process started, emerged with 45 votes, while Roi Ligon Jr., the safe-schools advocate for the Philadelphia School District, took 36. The leaders cast one vote for each voting division their ward has in the district. Ligon won the support of the 44th and 60th Wards, while Green took the 4th, 6th, 24th, 38th, and 52nd.
In the special election, Green is the heavy favorite to win because 87% of the district’s voters are registered Democrats. The winner will complete the final 10 months of the term of former State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, who resigned two weeks ago after being charged with stealing more than $500,000 from a nonprofit she founded.
Assuming Green wants the job for a full two-year term, she would also have to run in the April 28 Democratic primary, possibly against some of the people she beat Friday.
“If they’re there, that’s not going to stop me,” Green said at Democratic City Committee headquarters after winning the nomination. “I’m going all the way.”
Green has said she hopes to leave the district’s scandal-prone recent history in the past. Johnson-Harrell won a special election in March after State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown resigned last December after being convicted of bribery and other charges.
Asked how she pitched herself to the ward leaders, Green said: “I see us as moving forward to be a proud and prosperous district, and that I wanted to build a coalition with the ward leaders, the committee people, the business community, the youth, and clergy. We know that everyone has a voice, and every voice should be heard at the table.”
The base pay for a Pennsylvania state representative is $88,610, plus allowances for expenses. Leadership positions can pay more.
The Republican City Committee has not chosen a nominee for the special election.