Four Traffic Court candidates removed from ballot, 11 withdraw

Philadelphia Traffic Court at Eighth and Spring Garden Streets was in session Thursday, but some of the judges hearing cases were from out of town. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

The crowded field of 41 candidates for three endangered Philadelphia Traffic Court seats has thinned a bit now that 15 Democrats have withdrawn from the race or been removed from the ballot by a judge after legal challenges were filed about their nomination petitions.

The candidates removed from the ballot by court order are: Thomas McLaughlin, Andrew Grannum, Khalilah Cade and Alessandro Gatta.  Candidates allowed to withdraw during court hearings were: Fareeda Brewington, Erin Nowak, Juanita Jenkins and Ikeke Soncera.  Candidates who withdrew without hearings were: Tim Thornton, Lynwood Savage, Youngchu Song, Albert Littlepage and Armstead King Jr.

King on Friday filed an appeal to the state Commonwealth Court about the legal challenge filed against him.

Ella Butcher withdrew from the Democratic primary election but remains one of two candidates in the Republican primary election. Democrat Fred Mari withdrew Wednesday afternoon from the race. Wednesday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for candidates to remove their names from the ballot.

Legal challenges were filed against 23 candidates on March 19.  Several candidates survived legal challenges when they were allowed by the court to amend their financial disclosure forms to correct defects.

The state House Judiciary Committee is now considering two bills passed unanimously by the state Senate in February to eliminate the three vacant Traffic Court seats and then change the state Constitution to fold the agency's duties into Municipal Court. The Senate acted after nine current or former judges were charged with federal crimes in a massive ticket-fixing scheme.