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A note about our endorsement process: The 2nd Ward is an “open” ward, which means that all endorsements are decided by a vote of all the committee people, with a simple majority threshold. Nearly all of the candidates and positions were endorsed with over a threshold of 60 percent; many were endorsed with near unanimity, and our judicial endorsements passed unanimously.1

In his nearly four years in office, Mayor Jim Kenney has gracefully shepherded a city undergoing significant transformation, through taking brave stances and progressive leadership. He has supported the expansion of pre-K education, libraries, and parks; ended data sharing with Immigration Customs and Enforcement and generally supported Philadelphia’s status as “Sanctuary City”; and supported the end of the School Reform Commission and the transition to local control. The Second Ward overwhelmingly voted to support his re-election, and we look forward to his second term in office.

City Commissioners

Philadelphia has three elected City Commissioners who form a bipartisan board that oversees elections and voter registration for city residents. The city is a stronghold of Democratic votes in a crucial swing state, so it is essential that this office function fairly and efficiently in the 2020 Election.

City Commissioner

Kahlil Williams

Kahlil Williams has 15 years of in-depth experience surrounding voting rights and fair elections. As a Policy Analyst at the Brennan Center for Justice, he focused on redistricting reform, campaign finance reform, and voting rights of formerly incarcerated citizens. As a Fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Williams worked with the NAACP to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2016, Williams recruited and managed hundreds of volunteers with the non-partisan Election Protection program.

If elected, Williams has committed to ensuring that every eligible Philadelphian can vote in the pivotal 2020 election and beyond. He will create a culture of transparency in the Commissioner’s office by reporting to City Council after every election. Our current training program for poll workers is underfunded, poorly attended, and ineffective, and Williams will work to modernize and enhance this training program. He will also work with local educators and the Commissioner’s staff to implement a political participation curriculum in local schools to increase turnout and create a new generation of well-informed voters. Finally, Williams opposes the disproportionate impact of ballot position under our current system, wherein candidates’ chances of winning an election are akin to a lottery. Williams will implement multiple ballots across the city to level the playing field so that voters, rather than chance, choose our elected officials.

City Commissioner

Jen Devor

An activist and leader through-and-through, Jen Devor has participated in and led groups such as Friends of Neighborhood Education, Diversified Community Services, We Vote, the Center for Progressive Leadership, and Citizens Planning Institute. She has also served for years as a block captain in Point Breeze. Importantly, Devor was one of the first class of Buchholz Fellows at the Committee of 70, Philadelphia’s premier, nonpartisan voter guide and election watchdog group. Devor graduated from the University of the Arts with a degree in Media and Communications and has used that training as a long-time Director of Partnerships at Campus Philly, bringing college students to the Greater Philadelphia area and encouraging them to stay in the area after graduation.

While other candidates have experiences with education, communications and marketing, or elections, Devor has a unique mix of all three. Devor will work to ensure that any voting technology used in Philadelphia presents a combination of security and value, and that any process used to obtain voting machines is completely transparent. She is acutely aware of obstacles preventing eligible Philadelphians from voting: criminal records or incarceration, language barriers, homelessness, and registrations simply not being processed in a timely fashion. Devor refuses to accept that these will always be barriers to political participation, and has the knowledge and experience to make sure that every eligible Philadelphian can cast a ballot.

Sheriff

The County Sheriff is responsible for security in our courts of law, serving court orders including eviction notices and protection from abuse and managing foreclosure procedures including sheriff’s sales.

Sheriff

Rochelle Bilal

Rochelle Bilal is seeking to change a Sheriff’s office marked by impunity, corruption, and sexual harassment and abuse. It is also an office that, as Bilal correctly sees, can be moved to mitigate the city’s terrible eviction and foreclosure crisis. The head of the Guardian Civic League, the union of black police officers, Bilal has experience successfully challenging figures of authority, an asset for an office overrun with patronage. She has called for visionary policies, like a moratorium on Sheriff’s sales, an end to the practice of making foreclosed homeowners pay for advertising costs, and for greater outreach to let those faced with eviction know their options and their rights. The Sheriff’s office needs to be a vehicle for keeping people in their homes. Among all the candidates running for Sheriff, only Bilal takes seriously the gravity of the situation and plans to change it.

City Council

City Council is the main legislative body in Philadelphia. City Council makes and amends city laws, ordinances, and policies, such as the sugary beverage tax to help fund universal pre-K and community schools, and the Fair Workweek bill, ensuring predictable work schedules for service & hospitality workers. City Council also adopts the city budget and approves mayoral appointees. It is comprised of 17 members (10 representing Council Districts and 7 elected At-Large) serving 4-year terms.

City Council At-Large

Helen Gym

Helen Gym was a well-known educator and community organizer for many years before being elected to City Council in 2015. She is an outspoken champion for quality public schools, affordable housing, and workers’ rights. In her first term on Council, she has introduced and passed legislation that protects low-income families facing eviction, increased funding for preschools and parks, and ensured fair work schedules for tens of thousands of workers across the city. Described by Philadelphia Magazine as “relentless, whip-smart, meticulously prepared and utterly fearless,” Councilmember Gym will continue to fight for poor and working families in Philadelphia during her second term. She is endorsed by a wide range of progressive organizations, including the Second Ward Democrats, Reclaim Philadelphia, Unite Here, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, 215 People’s Alliance, and Neighborhood Networks.

City Council At-Large

Erika Almirón

Erika Almirón has spent the past twenty years organizing workers, students, immigrants, and people in poverty to fight for their human rights. She is the daughter of South American Immigrants and the former Assistant Director of the Philadelphia Student Union. Most recently, Almirón served as the Executive Director of Juntos, where she organized challenges to inhumane deportation and ICE policies and helped make Philadelphia the national model for sanctuary cities. As a City Councilmember, Almirón will fight for high-quality housing for all Philadelphians, fully-funded public schools, economic justice and workers’ rights, and a Green New Deal for the city. Almirón is endorsed by over a dozen progressive organizations in Philadelphia, including the Second Ward Democrats, Reclaim Philadelphia, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, the Working Families Party, Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, and the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.

City Council At-Large

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas represents one of the fiercest voices for youth and working people of color to emerge in a generation. A basketball coach at Sankofa Freedom Academy, an African-centered school in northwest Philadelphia, he was one of the earliest advocates for local control of the Philadelphia school system, as well as for ending the ten-year tax abatement to bring more funding to public education. Recognizing the encroaching privatization of the school district, he would institute a moratorium on charter school expansion and would move to create, on his first day in office, a charter accountability. He is a strong advocate for progressive organized labor, and recognizes that creating family-sustaining jobs is the key to ending generations of enduring poverty, especially among black and brown communities. Thomas has been endorsed by most of the labor unions in the city and the Working Families Party as well as the Democratic Campaign Committee.

City Council At-Large

Justin DiBerardinis

Justin DiBerardinis, candidate for City Council At-Large, is full of ideas on how to transform Philly into a city that works for all its citizens. “We should be measuring ourselves not by our private wealth, but by our shared wealth,” he says. DiBerardinis’ platform, A New Deal for Philly, calls for investment in public assets (parks, libraries, schools, transportation infrastructure), tax reform to make Philadelphia’s tax structure more small business- and worker-friendly, and a commitment to make Philadelphia a green city by removing its dependence on fossil fuels. If elected, he will reform tax abatements for new construction and create new tax abatements for low- and moderate- income housing, historic preservation, and restoration of current housing stock. DiBerardinis also wants to reform city government by, among other measures, limiting outside employment for City Council members and restructuring the city’s charter. DiBerardinis has devoted his entire career to public service, first as a community organizer for Eastern Philadelphia Organizing Project and Good Schools Philly, then as legislative aide to Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (where he specialized in tax policy). Most recently, he was director of programs and partnerships at Bartram’s Garden.

DiBerardinis’ endorsements include 2nd Ward Philly Dems, Reclaim Philadelphia, 8th Ward Democratic Executive Committee, Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks, AFSCME District Councils 33 and 47, and Sierra Club, among other progressive organizations.

City Council At-Large

Ethelind Baylor

Ethelind Baylor is a Philadelphia native, community advocate and labor leader. Her election would bring a much-needed voice of criminal justice reform and working-class advocacy to council. She is the Vice President of AFSCME District Council 47, a leader in the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and steering committee member of the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities and the 215 People’s Alliance. Earlier in her career she worked as an educator in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons and then became a legislative director and community outreach coordinator for her union. Baylor played a leadership role in the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities successful campaign to create the city’s Housing Trust Fund. She has also served on the boards of the Philadelphia Adult Literacy Alliance, Jobs with Justice, and the United Way of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. She lives in Frankford with her husband and five children.

District City Council

The 2nd Ward falls largely within the 1st Council District with a small portion at the west end of the Ward falling within the 2nd Council District. Committee persons in the respective Districts voted to endorse the incumbent Councilmembers, in each case citing their demonstrated commitment to serving the local community.

First District

Second District

First District

Mark Squilla

In his two terms as Councilmember for the First District, which covers most of the 2nd ward, Mark Squilla has established himself as an indefatigable respondent to the needs of his constituents and a strong supporter of workers’ rights. In the last council term, he was a strong supporter of Fair Workweek and the Construction Impact Tax to fund affordable housing construction, and he introduced, and was able to pass, a transformative bill that raised the minimum wage for city contractors to $15 an hour. A strong supporter of community organizations, gardens, and other neighborhood efforts in his district, we believe he will continue to be an excellent public servant for his constituents and the city at large.

Second District

Kenyatta Johnson

Kenyatta Johnson is an involved, active presence among his neighbors, in a district that is undergoing significant upheaval and transformation. Representing the Hawthorne neighborhood of the 2nd ward, he has sought to improve the lives of people in his district by improving their ability to make a living wage and to bargain collectively. He has helped over a thousand workers at the airport to join a union, was an early co-sponsor of Councilmember Helen Gym’s Fair Workweek bill, and supported the sugary beverage tax to fund pre-K education and the Construction Impact Tax to fund affordable housing. These are key policies for helping the city’s working class achieve family-sustaining jobs and housing they can afford.

Judicial Candidates

Judicial endorsements made by the Second Ward followed an exhaustive vetting process. A select committee reviewed Philadelphia Bar Association materials and the committee’s own questionnaire, interviewed candidates, and spoke to references. That committee came to full consensus on the following candidates for Court of Common Pleas, Municipal Court, and Superior Court and their recommendations were approved unanimously by the committee people of the Second Ward. Our endorsed candidates are committed to sentencing reform; greater access to legal representation; and racial, economic, environmental, and family justice. We believe they will be compassionate, dynamic, and transformative members of the bench.

State Superior Court

State Superior Court

Amanda Green-Hawkins

Amanda has extensive experience in labor law, having worked for the United Steelworkers since 2002. As a member of the Allegheny County Council, she sponsored and secured passage of a county-level civil rights law that protects the rights of women, LGBT people, and racial and religious minorities. Her knowledge of both civil rights and labor law would make her a critical voice of reform on the state bench.

Court of Common Pleas (Vote for 6)

Court of Common Pleas

Jennifer Schultz

Jennifer is a public interest lawyer who has worked for Community Legal Services since 2007. Her practice has focused on consumer rights and home ownership, including defense against foreclosure and eviction, with a particular emphasis on rent to own transactions and title issues. The Second Ward believes Schultz’s experience representing indigent clients in civil actions will prove invaluable on the bench.

Court of Common Pleas

Anthony Kyriakakis

Anthony is a former Assistant United States Attorney with experience prosecuting identity theft and bank and health care fraud. Since leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office ten years ago, he has demonstrated a strong commitment to reforming the criminal justice system. He worked as a Fellow at the Center for Public Health Law at Temple, taught courses in sentencing reform at UPenn Law School, and has testified before the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission against the use of biased risk assessment tools. During the Obama Administration, Kyriakakis worked in the clemency process to identify offenders who were candidates for early release. As a judge, he will advocate for reducing probation detainers and for regular training for both staff and judges on implicit bias.

Court of Common Pleas

Chris Hall

Chris has worked in private practice for thirteen years representing individuals and businesses in grand jury and government investigations. Prior to that he was an assistant United States Attorney, investigating and prosecuting, for example, polluters who had dumped asbestos in a residential neighborhood next to Cobbs Creek, as well as significant cases of public corruption. He has represented indigent criminal defendants as a member of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Criminal Justice Act Panel.

Court of Common Pleas

Tiffany Palmer

Tiffany has already changed the law of the Commonwealth as it related to LGBTQ families and their rights, expanding family rights in Pennsylvania to be reflective of the diversity of contemporary families in our society. Palmer has argued for an expanded definition of parental rights, the enforcement of gestational surrogacy contracts, and the rights of grandparents who are parenting their grandchildren in kinship adoptions. As a judge, she has indicated that she would take the initiative to provide translators and identify other needs of litigants and witnesses to improve their experience in court; argue for better pay for designated counsel to better the quality of representation for indigent clients; institute timed cases in family court to ensure more efficiency and quicker results for litigants; and advocate for trauma-informed training for courtroom staff.

Court of Common Pleas

James Berardinell

James worked in the family violence unit in the District Attorney’s office and was cross designated to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted identity theft, cyber crime, municipal and police corruption, and organized crime. As a criminal defense attorney, he now represents indigent clients facing the most serious charges and sentences, including death sentences. He also serves on the First District’s Counsel Fee Working Group, helping to ensure the City provides adequate representation to the indigent; he received the First Judicial District Pro Bono Service Award in 2017 for this work. He is committed to reversing the crisis of mass incarceration and providing mental health protections for criminal defendants.

Court of Common Pleas

Kay Yu

Kay has served in a variety of roles throughout her legal career, including leading teams in complex civil litigation. In addition to her work in private practice, Yu has worked at the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations for five years and served as a commissioner for four, where she adjudicated claims of discrimination and presided over a year-long series of hearings on intergroup conflicts in the School District of Philadelphia. Yu has helped protect the rights of Philadelphians by re-writing the City’s Fair Practices Ordinance to include charitable organizations, and to add punitive damages for violators and attorney’s fees for prevailing parties. She currently serves on the board of directors of Community Legal Services. If elected, Yu, the daughter of Korean immigrants, will become the first Korean American judge in the Commonwealth.

Municipal Court

Municipal Court

David Conroy

David supports the expanded use of diversionary programs to reduce levels of mass incarceration and give first time offenders a genuine chance at rehabilitation in our Commonwealth where expungement of criminal records is a rare occurrence. He will also advocate for the payment of market rates for appointed counsel in small claims court to encourage lawyers to take these cases and improve representation of clients. He would also relax rules of evidence and procedure in order to help unrepresented clients more easily navigate the municipal court system.

Proposed Charter Changes

Proposed Charter Change Question #1

(Bill No. 180820)

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to change certain gender specific references (such as “councilman,” “councilmen,” and “Councilmanic”) to gender neutral references (such as “councilmember,” “councilmembers,” and “Council”)?

The first ballot question proposes to remove some of the gender specific references from the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter and replace them with more inclusive gender-neutral language. The current Charter language specifically refers to “Councilmen” and “Councilmanic privilege,” while the new proposed language would instead designate “Councilmembers” and “Council” privilege. The 2nd Ward is committed to progressive principles of equity and justice in serving our constituents, particularly those whose voices may not be heard. In keeping with those commitments, it is the Ward’s position that this simple change in language renders the Home Rule Charter more inclusive to women, trans, and nonbinary Philadelphians by removing the frame of male-specific gender markers. As such, the 2nd Ward recommends YES for Ballot Question #1.

Vote YES

Proposed Charter Change Question #2

(Bill No. 190007)

Vote YES

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, headed by a Director of Immigrant Affairs?

It is the understanding of the 2nd Ward that the proposed change to the Office of Immigrant Affairs would not create a new office, but rather it would make permanent the existing Office of Immigrant Affairs created by Mayor Kenney’s executive order. The Office currently provides important services and resources that support the well-being of our neighbors in the immigrant community, as well as assisting immigrants with critical access to and fair treatment from local government. Formalizing this Office would allow for the protection of these vital services in the long term. In light of the current national political climate, it is the position of the 2nd Ward that supporting this Office and other similar programs is vital to ensuring equity and justice for all Philadelphians. As such, the 2nd Ward recommends YES for Ballot Question #2.

Proposed Charter Change Question #3

(Bill No. 190102)

Vote YES

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call on the General Assembly to either increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage now, so that it reaches $15 an hour, in stages, by 2025; or allow the City of Philadelphia to itself provide for a decent, family sustaining, living wage for working Philadelphians?

Pennsylvania is one of 21 states (the only one in the Mid-Atlantic region) that does not require a higher minimum wage than the federal rate of $7.25/hour. Furthermore, state law prohibits municipalities from setting their own higher rates. This is untenable situation in Philadelphia where the cost of living has increased dramatically over the past decade and many families are left to scrape by on wages that do not meet basic needs. This change to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter would not have the immediate effect of raising anyone’s wages, but would make clear to state lawmakers that their inaction on this issue is causing real harm to the people of Philadelphia. The 2nd Ward recommends that you vote YES on this Question.

Proposed Charter Change Question #4

(Bill No. 180818)

Vote YES

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to require the establishment of “Public Safety Enforcement Officers” to assist the Police Department in regulating the flow of traffic; to enforce and assist the appropriate City officers in the enforcement of ordinances relating to the quality of life in the City’s neighborhoods; and to perform such other related duties as the Managing Director or Council may require?

This ballot question inspired significant debate among the committee people of the 2nd Ward. Although there were some concerns about the lack of detail on the proposed program and the potential for it to lead to over-policing, particularly within minority communities, we are ultimately in support of this proposal. The 2nd Ward is a densely populated area of the city where we rely on our neighbors to pay heed to traffic rules and laws about waste disposal for the health and safety of the whole community. At present, there is sparse enforcement of these rules, and many people who report quality of life concerns to the police find that they not attended to promptly or in a manner that reinforces a positive behavioral change. We think that a class of unarmed officers who are given the authority and responsibility to enforce these laws would be significant benefit to the community, provided that the officers receive proper implicit racial bias training and that diverse language ability be prioritized in their hiring. We therefore recommend that you vote YES on this question, and to then follow up with a request to your Councilmember for further details on this program.

1 Ballot Question #4 was endorsed by a simple majority of 51 percent.