On Tuesday, Pennsylvania voters will have some tough choices to make on who they think should become the next president, represent them in Congress and in the state legislature.
In the race for president, both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are preferable than Republican front-runners businessman Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Trump has been reckless in his rhetoric on immigration, temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country and on a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Cruz is so far right he is more conservative than Ronald Reagan in his tea party zeal to slash government. Cruz says one of his top priorities is to abolish President Barack Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act which has helped millions of Americans gain access to health care.
in Republican primary
In the Republican primary, Ohio Governor John Kasich, a conservative who has worked with African-American state legislators on police reform is easily the best GOP choice.
In the Democratic primary, the choice is tougher. Clinton is a former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator from New York and former First Lady. Sanders is a U.S. Senator, former congressman and former mayor.
in Democratic primary
Bernie Sanders offers an inspiring message and bold vision for America without the excessive baggage of Clinton, which is why Sanders is our choice for president in the Democratic primary.
Clinton has on many occasions exercised bad judgment on critical issues including her avid support for her husband’s draconian 1994 crime bill which led to a major increase in mass incarceration of African Americans. She may not be responsible for signing the crime bill but she strongly supported it. She has since apologized for her support including her use of the race-coded term “super predator” to describe Black males involved in crime. But her previous stance raises serious questions.
She also exercised bad judgment in giving highly paid speeches to Wall Street, whose reckless speculation help lead the country to the worst recession since the Great Depression. In foreign affairs, she supported the invasion of Iraq and has publicly advocated a far more aggressive approach toward Syria than President Barack Obama. Obama and Sanders opposed the war in Iraq. Sanders is also a strong advocate of Palestinian statehood, which requires considerable courage. The New York Times describes Clinton as more hawkish on military matters than Obama and most Democrats in Congress.
Since his days as a student at the University of Chicago protesting against segregation in public schools in Chicago and throughout his political career, Sanders has supported policies and programs that would be in the best interest of all Americans and African Americans, specifically. He has been a consistent fighter for a more just and equitable society.
The killing of unarmed Black men by police officers in Ferguson, New York, Baltimore and elsewhere have finally brought the important issue of police brutality and mass incarceration to the national dialogue.
Sanders takes a strong stance against police abuse and misconduct without demonizing good police officers. He has called for demilitarizing local police departments and holding police officers accountable for misconduct and abuse.
His support for free tuition at public colleges and universities would disproportionally help African Americans and would have a major positive affect of alleviating poverty.
His critics say Sanders proposals are too ambitious, costly and would never get through Congress. They are right that most of his proposals would not pass the current Republican-controlled Congress. His proposals will not happen overnight. But Social Security was also once seen as impossible.
But most of Sanders’ proposals including free tuition at public colleges and universal health care are not new and are already well established government programs in European countries with far less wealth than the United States.
Joe Sestak for U.S. Senate
Regardless of who wins the presidency, there will be need for a new Congress to get anything done.
Senator Pat Toomey joined with some of his more conservative Republican colleagues in the senate in opposing Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney General. He opposes holding a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, Obama’s pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia who died in February. Lynch, who overcame Toomey’s opposition, and Garland, are highly qualified.
There are several Democrats seeking to replace Toomey in the Senate. We endorse Joe Sestak, former Navy admiral and former congressman, to be the Democratic nominee. Sestak lost to Toomey in a close election in 2010, despite having many Democratic Party leaders opposed to him because of his independence. Sestak did well in an election year where Republicans rode tea party anger against Obama to take control of Congress. On the issues, Sestak and his closest rival, Katie McGinty, are not far apart, but Sestak has the experience and proven record in Congress.
Chaka Fattah for Congress
Congressman Chaka Fattah also has a proven record in Congress and has earned another term to represent the Second District in Philadelphia and Cheltenham Township. Fattah has been an effective champion for people in need and longtime leader on urban and educational policy. His GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) has contributed nearly $2 billion toward the educational advancement of low-income students.
As a senior member in Congress, Fattah has been in the position to help steer money back to his district and the region.
Despite his considerable accomplishments, a cloud of a 29-count federal indictment for allegedly paying his bills with public and charitable funds make this endorsement of Fattah an extremely difficult decision.
But Fattah is constitutionally entitled to due process. Former congressmen have been indicted on racketeering charges before and have been acquitted. It would be a disservice to Fattah’s years of public service and his constituents if Fattah was abandoned now only to be found innocent of the charges against him.
for Pa. Attorney General
Kathleen Kane has secured her place in history as the first woman to be elected as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General. But a once-promising political career has been squandered by her management style and conduct in office. Kane has been charged with illegally leaking secret grand jury material to a reporter, allegations she strongly denies. Kane’s law license has been suspended and the state legislature has considered removing her.
Fortunately, Kane has decided not to run for re-election.
We believe the best person in the Democratic primary to replace her is Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro. Shapiro, chairman of the board of the third-largest county in the state, chairman of the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and a former four-term state representative, has the management, legislative experience and demonstrated intelligence and integrity needed to reform the Attorney General’s Office.
In other races, the Tribune endorses the following candidates:
Joe Torsella for State Treasurer
Torsella has a proven record in managing people and budgets as chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, chairman of the National Constitution Center and deputy mayor of Philadelphia for policy and planning in the Rendell administration.
Representative in Congress
Robert Brady, 1st District
Brendan F. Boyle, 13th District
Senator in the
Lawrence Farnese Jr.,
Sharif Street, 3rd District
Vincent Hughes, 7th District
Representative in the
Angel Cruz, 18th District
W. Curtis Thomas, 181st District
Jordan Harris, 186th District
James Roebuck, 188th District
Donna Bullock, 195th District
Stephen Kinsey, 201st district
Mark Cohen, 202nd District
Proposed Constitutional Amendment #1: Amending the mandatory judicial retirement age
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70? Vote Yes
Proposed Constitutional Amendment #2: Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to abolish the Philadelphia Traffic Court? Vote No.
The Traffic Court should be reformed, but not abolished.
Proposed charter change Question #3 (Bill No. 150573-A): Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for the creation, appointment, powers and duties of an independent Commission on African-American Males, which would study and recommend responses to challenges facing African-American males in Philadelphia? Vote Yes.
The study should hopefully lead to proposed policy changes that will lead to better educational and job opportunities for African-American males.