Primary Preview: Row offices, ballot questions and judges

primary preview
The 2023 primary is Tuesday.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Tuesday’s municipal primary ballot stretches beyond the mayoral and City Council contests.

Registered Democrats will be weighing in on competitive races for city controller, register of wills and sheriff, as well as a series of statewide and local judicial positions.

While only party members can vote for candidates, since Pennsylvania’s primaries are closed, independents and those belonging to third parties can cast a ballot with “yes” and “no” answers to the city’s four questions.

City Controller – Democratic

Alexandra Hunt: A public health researcher and activist who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans in last year’s primary, her focus as controller would be on access to health care, supporting labor unions and creating transparency.

John Thomas: A former deputy city controller, he wants to increase diversity in government contracting, promote economic development in underserved neighborhoods and ensure accountability in municipal finances.

Christy Brady: A longtime employee of the office, she was appointed active controller after Rebecca Rhynhart resigned from the position to run for mayor. Brady wants to probe the underground economy, gun violence prevention programs and drug treatment initiatives. She is endorsed by the local Democratic Party.

Register of Wills – Democratic

Elizabeth Hall Lowe: She told the Inquirer she would transition the office, which handles marriage records and certifies wills, into the 21st century, digitizing documents and procedures.

Rae K. Hall: A former Register of Wills and Mayor’s Office employee, she also wants to modernize the department and work to raise morale, which her campaign says is at “an all-time low.” She has been endorsed by Transport Workers Local 234 and the Inquirer.

John Sabatina: A longtime Northeast Philadelphia estate lawyer, he wants to improve the services offered by the Register of Wills. The Philadelphia Democratic Party is backing Sabatina.

Tracey L. Gordon: She is running for a second four-year term after being elected register in 2019. Gordon has focused on helping residents resolve tangled titles and encouraging homeowners to establish wills.

Sheriff – Democratic

Michael Untermeyer: A prosecutor who spent more than a decade in the Attorney General’s Office, he wants to clean up the department, which has long been plagued by scandals, and increase warrant enforcement.

Rochelle Bilal: Seeking a second term after taking office in 2020, she wants to prioritize keeping families in their homes, teaching gun safety and expanding education programming. Bilal is endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Jackie L. Miles: The security director for the Washington Wizards, he is a Philadelphia native and military veteran who plans to recognize great policing and implement an open door policy.

Uncontested races

Incumbent Democrats Lisa Deeley and Omar Sabir are seeking to be reelected to the three-person board of City Commissioners, which oversees elections and voting.

One seat is reserved for a minority party, and Seth Bluestein is running unopposed Tuesday on the GOP ballot. Mayor Jim Kenney nominated Bluestein after Republican Al Schmidt stepped down.

Also on the Republican side, Aaron Bashir, who has unsuccessfully campaigned for a variety of positions in recent years, is on the ballot for city controller.

Linwood Holland, a GOP ward leader, is uncontested in the Republican primary for register of wills, as is Mark Lavelle in the race for sheriff.

Ballot Questions

The first question asks residents whether City Council and the mayor should be required to put more money into the “rainy day fund,” which can only be accessed in an emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Next, voters will have to decide if the city should create a “Division of Workforce Solutions” to be housed in the Commerce Department. The division would focus on workforce development initiatives.

The third measure would exempt members of the Citizens Police Oversight Commissioner from civil service hiring rules.

And the final question asks voters whether the city’s charter should be amended to create a public safety director position. If approved, the director would be nominated by the mayor and approved by council and oversee the police and fire departments, as well as all local government safety initiatives.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court – Democratic – Vote for 1

  • Daniel McCaffery
  • Debbie Kunselman

Pennsylvania Supreme Court – Republican – Vote for 1

  • Patricia McCullough
  • Carolyn Carluccio

Superior Court – Democratic – Vote for up to 2

  • Pat Dugan
  • Timika Lane
  • Jill Beck

Superior Court – Republican – Vote for up to 2

  • Maria Battista
  • Harry F. Smail Jr.

Commonwealth Court – Democrat – Vote for 1

  • Matt Wolf
  • Bryan Neft

Commonwealth Court – Republican – Vote for 1

  • Josh Prince
  • Megan Martin

Court of Common Pleas – Democratic – Vote for up to 10

  • Natasha Taylor-Smith
  • Caroline Turner
  • Kenneth Joel
  • Brian McLaughlin
  • Tamika Washington
  • Damaris Garcia
  • Qawi Abdul-Rahman
  • Samantha Williams
  • Joe Green
  • Will Braveman
  • Wade D. Albert
  • Chesley Lightsey
  • Jessica R. Brown
  • Kay Yu
  • Melissa Francis
  • John Padova

Municipal Court – Democratic – Vote for up to 2

  • Barbara Thomson
  • Rania Major
  • Colleen McIntyre Osborne
  • Melissa Francis

Municipal Court – Republican – Vote for up to 2

  • Rania M. Major