One of the six candidates in the May 17 Democratic primary election for the First Council District decided this week to drop out of the race while a new candidate is preparing to enter it. Mike Boyle, leader of Center City's 5th Ward, just told us he is withdrawing. Mark Squilla, president of the Whitman Council in South Philly, just told us he will challenge incumbent Councilman Frank DiCicco.
Boyle said a lack of enthusiasm among voters and campaign contributors made him decide to focus instead on his busy law practice and ward duties. He predicts that he would have competed for the same Center City progressive voters as two other candidates, former Mayor Street staffer Joe Grace and former Service Employees International Union leader Jeff Hornstein. Boyle said he plans to personally back Hornstein but it is too early to say if his ward will follow that lead.
Squilla spoke quite favorably about DiCicco, with one major exception: The controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan. Like other candidates, Squilla is critical of DiCicco because he can, if re-elected, collect a $424,646 DROP payment on Dec. 30, retire for one day, and return to City Council in January 2012. DiCicco has attempted to soothe DROP critics by pledging to donate back to the city his Council salary if re-elected.
"I think it hurts," Squilla said of the issue. "It puts a little bit of a black eye on things he has done as a positive in his district.."
Still, Squilla says a crowded field may help DiCicco survive the election. DiCicco is also being challenged by attorney Vern Anastasio and retired teacher Karen Brown, both Democratic Committee members.
Here's a release from the former City Controller candidate:
Media Advisory: Schmidt for City Commissioner 2011
PHILADELPHIA – Al Schmidt to formally announce candidacy for City Commissioner of Philadelphia – and to expose widespread and systematic misuse of public resources for partisan political purposes in recent Philadelphia elections – at press conference tomorrow.
What: Press conference to announce campaign kick off.
When: Thursday, December 9th, 2010
Where: Lincoln Room
140 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(Proper attire, no jeans)
Who: Al Schmidt
Republican Candidate for City Commissioner
Al Schmidt is a former senior analyst at the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) – the investigative arm of Congress. He assisted members of Congress, both Democratic and Republican, in conducting oversight of government agencies, programs, and policies – anywhere that taxpayer dollars were spent – to identify and eliminate waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.
Prior to joining GAO, Al served as a policy analyst for President Clinton’s Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. The Commission was charged with conducting original research into the fate of assets taken from victims of the Holocaust. As the Commission’s policy analyst he played a key role in formulating and presenting recommendations to the President.
So it was big news last week that Sam Katz -- a former GOP mayoral candidate -- said he would not take on Mayor Nutter in the Democratic primary next year. But is that the end of this story?
WHYY's Dave Davies has an intriguing post on his new blog, questioning whether Katz could oppose Nutter as a Republican during the general election, after another candidate drains Nutter's financial resources during the primary. And Davies points out that the current campaign finance rules could work against Nutter in such a scenario.
Because city contribution limits are based on a calendar year rather than an election cycle, the mayor can't raise any new money from donors who gave the max during the primary campaign.That could tempt a Sam Katz or somebody else to enter the fall campaign and run up a money advantage on the mayor. Katz hasn't ruled that out.
For the full post, and more of Davies' political insights, click here.