Election Guide: A look at the races and questions on Tuesday’s ballot in Philadelphia

U.S. 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania
Voters fill out their ballots on Election Day in Conshohocken, on Nov. 3, 2020.
REUTERS/Rachel Wisniewski

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, as Philadelphians pick their next district attorney, select judges and decide on several ballot questions.

The DA election, the most high-profile race on the ticket, features heavily-favored incumbent Democrat Larry Krasner and Republican attorney Charles Peruto Jr.

Krasner’s biggest hurdle was likely in the May primary, where he defeated long-time prosecutor Carlos Vega. The race, in which Krasner took 65% of the vote, was widely seen as a referendum on the incumbent’s progressive agenda.

Peruto, always engaged in an uphill battle in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, has appealed to voters by repeatedly pointing to Philadelphia’s rising homicide and shooting numbers.

In the other city-wide non-judicial election, City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, a Democrat, is running unopposed.

Residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on four ballot questions, including one that would require tens of millions of dollars to be diverted to affordable housing programs every year.

Question four, if approved, would require City Council and the mayor to divert at least 0.5% of the city’s annual budget to the Housing Trust Fund. If the mandate had been in place during the most recent budget cycle, $25 million would have been automatically spent on housing initiatives.

Another poll question asks voters whether Philadelphia should scrap the “rule of two,” which forces city departments to consider only two job candidates — those who finish highest on the civil service exam.

It’s one of the most restrictive hiring policies among large American cities. Proponents say the change would encourage greater diversity in the municipal workforce.

The first ballot measure is to determine whether the city’s official stance should be to urge state lawmakers in Harrisburg to legalize recreational marijuana. Results will be mostly symbolic, with no legalization likely in the near future.

If the second question is approved, Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration would establish a new fleet services department to manage all city-owned vehicles.

Elsewhere on the ballot, Democratic Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin and Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson, a Republican, are vying for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Voters will be prompted to select any two of four candidates to serve on the Commonwealth Court — Republicans Stacy Marie Wallace and Drew Crompton and Democrats Lori A. Dumas and David Lee Spurgeon.

REUTERS/Emily Elconin

Seventeen judicial candidates for the Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court are running unopposed, and about two dozen judges are seeking to be retained for another term.

Philadelphians planning to vote in-person will be encouraged to wear masks, consistent with the city’s indoor masking mandate. Poll workers will be required to mask up unless they have a medical exemption.

Six-foot distancing will be enforced for voters who refuse to wear a mask.

Drop boxes, where voters can submit their mail-in ballots 24/7, have been set up at City Hall, Riverview Place, Eastern State Penitentiary, Pelbano Recreation Center, Ford PAL Recreation Center, Smith Playground, Vogt Recreation Center, Independent Branch Library, Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center, Pleasant Playground, Shissler Recreation Center, Chalfont Playground, Stenton Playground, Shepard Recreation Center, Kendrick Recreation Center and the election warehouse at 11311 Roosevelt Blvd.

Additionally, election workers will be staffing a mail ballot collection event from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road in Northeast Philadelphia.

For more information about voting, go to www.pavoterservices.pa.gov or www.philadelphiavotes.com.