Seventy’s committee along with Philadelphia 3.0, a political action committee that is geared at reforming and modernizing City Hall, are suing Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, the President of the Common Pleas Court in a bid to stop the Philadelphia City Commissioners from overseeing the upcoming primary elections.
“This filing is asking the state Supreme Court to compel the Presiding Judge of the Court of Common Pleas to replace City Commissioners in May because there is a charter change question in the ballot,” the director of Philadelphia 3.0, Alison Perelman said.
According to Perelman, there is a line in the state election code that was uncovered by one of the Seventy staff members, Pat Christmas, that says the Presiding Judge “shall appoint judges or electors of the county to serve in the stead of the county commissioners” in any election featuring a charter change via a ballot question.
When commissioners stand for election, their duties are already fulfilled through a similar arrangement when they stand for election. There are ballot questions that have appeared or will appear in three of the last four city elections, including the upcoming primary, and this could mean that the office is redundant.
Perelman does not hide the fact that Philadelphia 3.0 and Seventy don’t want the commissioners. The two groups are part of the Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition, which aims to clean up city elections, starting with the beleaguered row office.
“In no other county in the US does their system look like ours, with three full-time elected officials designated with overseeing elections,” Perelman said, mentioning a number of issues with the body such as the ever absent, non-voting commissioner, Anthony Clark.
According to election lawyer Gregory Harvey, the merits of the suit were self-evident.
“I don’t know why the President Judge and, presumably, the City Commissioners, believe that the language of subsection does not apply to the Philadelphia City Commissioners,” said Gregory.
I guess now we can just sit back and wait to see how it goes, but from what I know about Philadelphia 3.0, they are not going to rest until their agenda goes through. The City commissioners are out of luck this time. In the meantime, we are going to look at Philadelphia 3.0’s agenda.
Get out the vote. Voting is still the most powerful tool in a citizen’s arsenal.