The Pennsylvania primary will be held Tuesday, during which registered Republicans and Democrats will select their parties’ nominees for the general election that will be held in November.
Registered voters will select nominees for state and local judicial seats and vote on four statewide ballot questions.
Voters in Philadelphia will vote in the Democratic primary for district attorney, where there is a contested race, and city controller, where incumbent Rebecca Rhynhart is running unopposed.
The hottest race in the Democratic primary is for Philadelphia district attorney, where incumbent Larry Krasner is being challenged by former homicide prosecutor Carlos Vega. Attorney Charles “Chuck” Peruto is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
District attorney:The Tribune endorses Larry Krasner for another four-year term.
When Krasner, a former civil rights lawyer, was elected the city’s district attorney in 2017, he promised reform. He has kept his promise. He has delivered on making needed changes to the DA office including not seeking the death penalty, not charging for minor drug possession and reducing the use of cash bail.
Krasner critics include the leadership of the local Fraternal Order of Police, which is backing Vega. The FOP’s backing of Vega is deeply troubling. FOP president John McNesby has backed former President Donald Trump and called Black Lives Matter “rabid animals.” While Vega should not be held accountable for those who support him, he can be held accountable for not publicly rebuking the FOP for its resistance to police reform.
Vega served 35 years as a prosecutor in the city’s DA office before he was fired by Krasner. His long tenure in an office that needed to be reformed is troubling. The DA office needed to be shaken up, which Krasner has done. The city needs a DA who will not defer to the police and is independent. We have doubt whether Vega would champion police and criminal justice reform.
It should be noted that while Krasner is strongly opposed by the city’s FOP leadership, he has been endorsed by the Guardian Civic League, which is the Black police officers’ organization.
Krasner is not without criticism. He needs to do more to publicly show that he can work better with the police while maintaining his independence. He also needs to focus more time and resources on the city’s rising gun violence. While we know that the long-term solutions to reducing gun violence are better schools, more higher-paying jobs and more stable families, the victims of gun violence need action now to deter the small minority of people who are violent criminals. However, it is unfair for Vega and other critics to single out Krasner for the rise in gun violence in the city without also looking at the role of the police department and the city’s high poverty rate.
City controller:Although Rebecca Rhynhart is running unopposed, she still deserves our endorsement because of her remarkable record as the city’s chief auditor and independent financial watchdog. In her role, she has exposed waste and mismanagement in the city’s police department, the Sheriff’s Office, the Philadelphia Parking Authority and other departments and agencies. Rhynhart has not been afraid to do tough audits. She deserves re-election.
The following are endorsements for state and local judicial seats:
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania:Maria McLaughlin, Paula Patrick
Superior Court:Timika Lane
Commonwealth Court:Lori A. Dumas, Sierra Street
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas:Chris Hall, Nick Kamau, Daniel R. Sulman, Mark J. Moore, Wendi Barish, Cateria R. McCabe, Caroline Turner, Tamika Washington
Philadelphia Municipal Court:Greg Yorgey-Girdy
Pennsylvania Ballot Question 1:Termination or Extension of Disaster Emergency Declarations
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration — and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration — through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval? Vote No.
Pennsylvania Ballot Question 2:Disaster Emergency Declarations and Management
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management? Vote No.
Ballot questions 1 and 2 are blatant attempts by the Republican-controlled state legislature to curtail the powers of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat. Their actions have nothing to do with improving public safety.
Pennsylvania Ballot Question 3:Prohibition against Denial or Abridgment of Equality of Rights Because of Race or Ethnicity
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual’s race or ethnicity? Vote Yes.
Pennsylvania Ballot Question 4:Making Municipal Fire and Emergency Medical Services Companies Eligible for Loans
Do you favor expanding the use of the indebtedness authorized under the referendum for loans to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads under 35 PA.C.S. §7378.1 (related to referendum for additional indebtedness) to include loans to municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies for the purpose of establishing and modernizing facilities to house apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, and for purchasing apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, protective and communications equipment and any other accessory equipment necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the fire companies and emergency medical services companies? Vote Yes.