Pa. State Senate endorsements

Voters in three local districts should buck the election-year mantra for change and reelect their experienced state senators.

In the Eighth District, comprising parts of Philadelphia and Delaware County, The Inquirer endorses 12-year incumbent ANTHONY HARDY WILLIAMS.

Williams, 53, raised his profile — and some eyebrows — earlier this year with a last-minute run for governor that raised millions of dollars from just a few donors. He didn’t win the primary, but having an African American Democrat from the city strongly endorsing school choice and charters guarantees that education reform will be high on the legislative agenda next year. Williams’ school voucher bill has already been praised by the gubernatorial candidates, Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato.

Republican newcomer Rhashea Harmon, 34, a lawyer with an education background, rightly notes that Williams’ own charter has not performed very well. But with his experience in this area, as well as his efforts on controlling gun violence and expanding local jobs in the bio-life science sector, Williams deserves reelection.

CHUCK McILHINNEY has earned a second term representing District 10, which includes most of Bucks County and Souderton and Telford Boroughs in Montgomery County. McIlhinney, 43, of Doylestown Township, has fought to keep taxes low. To maintain services without tax increases, he’s willing to explore ideas such as school-district consolidation to balance the budget.

This independent lawmaker also supports a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling and pension reform for state workers. As a senator and during his nine years in the state House, he has worked for open space, more open public records, and to ban smoking in public places.

Democrat Cynthia M. Philo, 45, the Doylestown Township supervisor, has considerable economic development experience from her years running Philadelphia’s Old City District. Voters are likely to hear from her again.
The 26th District, made up of 17 Delaware County municipalities and two in Chester County, offers a rematch: Republican Sen. Edwin B. “Ted” Erickson, 72, of Newtown Square vs. Democrat Michael Farrell, 44, of Springfield.

Farrell, a commercial litigation lawyer, has had four years to hone his message yet still lacks details.

Erickson, first elected in 2001, has done considerable work on property-tax relief. He’s currently championing public-private partnerships to create clinics for parts of the state lacking health-care facilities.

The former regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is among the Republicans calling for a drilling severance tax to offset environmental and infrastructure damage throughout the state. Voters in the 26th should reelect TED ERICKSON.