Friday, August 29, 2014
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What's on the ballot tomorrow

Believe it or not, there's an election tomorrow.

What's on the ballot tomorrow

On Tuesday, Philly voters will be asked to elect a district attorney, city controller and judges for Superior Court (one), the Court of Common Pleas (seven) and Municipal Court (three). (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)
On Tuesday, Philly voters will be asked to elect a district attorney, city controller and judges for Superior Court (one), the Court of Common Pleas (seven) and Municipal Court (three). (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Believe it or not, there's an election tomorrow. 

In Philadelphia, the ballot is filled with low-profile races, and organizers are fearing a repeat of the single-digit turnout in May’s primary election.

Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams is up for re-election against Republican lawyer Danny Alvarez, a former assistant D.A.

Alvarez has attacked Williams aggressively — throwing stones at everything from his management style to his weight — and managed to secure a public debate. But Williams, who fired shots back about Alvarez’s performance when he was a prosecutor, is expected to win handily.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz is seeking a third term as Philly's financial watchdog.

Republican challenger Terry Tracey, who says Butkovtiz has ignored the Philadelphia School District during his tenure, has impressed some as a possible GOP up-and-comer. Still, few expect him to threaten Butkovtiz, a Democratic ward leader with strong machine support and mayoral aspirations.

The only statewide race features Democrat Jack McVay, a Pittsburgh Common Pleas judge, against Republican Vic Stabile, a Harrisburg lawyer, for a spot on Superior Court.

The race may come down to McVay’s ability to generate turnout in the state’s two deep-blue strongholds: A mayoral race in his hometown could boost his chances, but a sleepy electorate in Philly is usually an omen for Democrats running statewide.

Nine candidates are vying for seven spots on Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, including current Judge Kenneth Powell Jr. Powell, a Republican, is up for election because he got the job through an appointment. Although he is a respected judge, the seven Democrats on the ballot are expected to cruise to victory, thanks to the party’s 6-to-1 voter registration edge.

The Philadelphia Bar Association rated Democratic candidates Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde and Joseph O’Neill as “not recommended.” The group doesn’t publicly disclose the reasoning behind its ratings.

For Municipal Court, only three candidates — all party-endorsed Democrats — are on the ballot for three openings. The bar association rated candidate Henry Lewandowski, a lawyer for the politically powerful electricians union, as “not recommended.”

Finally, 18 judges are up for retention, in which voters choose whether they should stay on the bench or turn in their robes.

The list includes Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille, a Philadelphia Republican whose tenure atop the high court has been marked by judicial scandals and ongoing disputes with fellow Justice Seamus McCaffery, a Philadelphia Democrat. If he is retained, Castille, 69, would trigger the age limit for judges next year and serve only a fraction of his 10-year term.

Voters will also decide whether to let the city borrow $94.7 million for capital projects.

The Republican City Committee, in the first election cycle since its warring factions united to elect state Rep. John Taylor as chairman, made the unusual move of publicly opposing the proposed borrowing, arguing that the city needs to be more transparent about how the money would be spent.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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