May 2019 Voter Guide
Last May, voters in our neighborhood elected us as committee people to strengthen and re-energize our local Democratic party. Since then, we have worked hard to establish the First Ward as a democratic, transparent organization and a powerful voice for working people in South Philly. In the general election, we knocked on over 10,000 doors, connecting with our neighbors and encouraging them to vote. As a result, we saw record-high turnout which helped ensure victory for Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Bob Casey, and State Representative Elizabeth Fiedler.
On May 21st, we will be electing our mayor, city council people, city commissioners, sheriff, and judges. With 85 candidates vying for these positions, voting can feel overwhelming. That’s why we have poured countless hours into researching, discussing, and meeting with the candidates. And for the first time in the history of the First Ward, we held endorsement elections, empowering every committee person to cast their votes for the candidates we should endorse. Below are the candidates we chose:
Jim Kenney (#31)
Mayor Kenney’s Rebuild program has revitalized libraries and recreation centers, including Capitolo Playground and Murphy Rec in South Philly. He also created pre-K slots for thousands of Philadelphia children and brought back local control of the Philadelphia School District. He prevented deportations of our neighbors by ending Philadelphia’s collaboration with ICE.
City Council: 1st District
Mark Squilla (#85)
Councilmember Squilla successfully fought for a $15/hr minimum wage for City subcontractors, and he worked hard to pass Fair Work Week legislation. He is responsive to constituents and listens to community groups.
City Council: At-Large
Erika Almirón (#68)
ERIKA ALMIRÓN has more than 20 years of organizing and leadership experience at various community organizations, including as Executive Director of Juntos here in South Philly. She understands how to build coalitions among workers, students, women, immigrants, and the poor, and she will fight for rent control, ending cash bail, re-entry programs, PILOTs from universities and nonprofits, and fully funded schools.
Ethelind Baylor (#83)
ETHELIND BAYLOR is a labor leader and Vice President of AFSCME District Council 47, a union of city employees. She is a board member of 215 People’s Alliance and of the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities. Her deep relationships with community activists and government officials will help her as she fights for public investment and jobs, increased funding for public schools, and quality affordable housing.
Justin DiBerardinis (#80)
JUSTIN DIBERARDINIS helped transform Bartram’s Garden into a popular, integrated green space, and he understands the environmental and climate issues our city faces. He believes in investing in streets, parks, and schools as a way to create both jobs and welcoming, sustainable community spaces. He supports tax reform that would help working class residents and shift the burden to corporations and large nonprofits.
Helen Gym (#56)
HELEN GYM has been a councilmember since 2016. She fought for local control of our schools, and won a nurse, a counselor, and clean water in every school. Her Fair Work Week legislation brought scheduling dignity and the option of full-time work to 110,000 workers. She also focuses on affordable housing, support for homeless youth, rights for renters, ending abuse in group homes for children, and other pressing human rights issues in our city.
Isaiah Thomas (#71)
ISAIAH THOMAS has experience working in a Philadelphia school as well as in the City Controller’s office. He is dedicated to mentorship in communities of color and understands the impacts of gun violence, mass incarceration, and criminalization of people of color through practices like stop and frisk. He supports an elected and paid school board, funding for neighborhood schools, and strict charter school accountability.
City Commissioners are responsible for running the city’s elections.
Jen Devor (#45)
JEN DEVOR is a South Philly resident, block captain, committee person in the 36th Ward, and public school advocate; she has won numerous awards for her community involvement. She is an accomplished administrator whose experience as a Director of Campus Philly will help her to engage young people and increase voter turnout.
Kahlil Williams (#40)
KAHLIL WILLIAMS, a former NAACP Legal Defense Fund staffer, has years of voting rights experience, including fighting against Republican voter suppression. As a City Commissioner, he will promote reforms such as same-day registration, early voting, and no-fault absentee voting.
Rochelle Bilal (#50)
Rochelle, a retired police officer and Secretary of Philadelphia’s NAACP chapter, believes the Sheriff’s Office needs to do much more to help families facing eviction stay in their homes. As the President of the Guardian Civic League, she spoke out against the Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016. That strength will be needed to reform the deeply corrupt Sheriff’s office. She would be Philadelphia’s first woman Sheriff.
Superior Court Judge
Amanda Green-Hawkins (#3)
Amanda has dedicated her nearly 20-year legal career to defending the rights of working families, union members, and marginalized communities. As Assistant Counsel for the United Steelworkers Union, most recently as Director of the Civil and Human Rights Division, she has successfully argued cases in both federal district and appellate courts. She has also served two terms as an Allegheny County Councilperson.
Municipal Court Judge
David Conroy (#29)
A South Philly resident, David supports expanding services for citizens in the court system, such as diversionary programs, aid in expungement, and relaxing the rules of evidence and procedure for unrepresented people. He is “Recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Court of Common Pleas
Anthony Kyriakakis (#19)
ANTHONY KYRIAKAKIS has demonstrated a commitment to criminal justice reform since leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office ten years ago. He has taught at Penn and Temple Law schools, lecturing on unequal treatment across race and demographics. He has also volunteered with the Clemency Project and with the Support Center for Child Advocates. He is one of just two candidates to be “Highly Recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Cateria McCabe (#15)
CATERIA MCCABE is a public interest attorney with a breadth of diverse experiences during her legal career. She was an assistant city solicitor, a lawyer at several small firms, including her own practice, and is now an attorney at the reputable Senior Law Center here in Philadelphia, where she focuses on protecting the legal rights of seniors. She is “Recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Tiffany Palmer (#23)
TIFFANY PALMER is a nationally acclaimed Family Law lawyer with 20 years of experience. Through representation of her clients, Tiffany has actually changed the law of the Commonwealth in a positive way as it relates to LGBTQ families and their rights. She is one of just two candidates to be “Highly Recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Jennifer Schultz (#4)
JENNIFER SCHULTZ is a public interest lawyer and has worked for Community Legal Services since 2007. Her work has focused on consumer rights and homeownership, including foreclosure defense and property tax relief. She is “Recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Nicola Serianni (#9)
NICOLA SERIANNI is a first-generation American who lives here in South Philly. She has experience as a defense attorney and as a clerk for several outstanding Pennsylvania judges. In her current practice, she represents injured railroad workers, people who have been harmed by the pharmaceutical industry, and victims of abuse by priests in the Catholic church. She is “Recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar Association.
Kay Yu (#27)
KAY YU worked at the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations for five years, where she adjudicated claims of discrimination. She has also worked to help protect civil rights by re-writing the City’s Fair Practices Ordinance to include charitable organizations. If elected, she will become the first Korean American judge in the Commonwealth. She is “Recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the 2018 recipient of its Justice Sonia Sotomayor Diversity Award.
YES (Question 1): Remove gender-specific language from the City Charter
YES (Question 2): Make the Office of Immigrant Affairs a permanent part of city government
YES (Question 3): Call on the state to raise the minimum wage
This election will have an enormous impact on the future of our city and the day-to-day lives of all our neighbors. If you have any questions, please reach out to your committee people. We look forward to seeing you at the polls on May 21st. Remember that a powerful city is a city that votes.
There’s more on your Primary ballot than these roles. First Ward endorsed the above candidates and questions but there is more to your ballot we didn’t reach consensus on.
Please note that on May 21, 2019 registered Democrats are eligible to vote for:
1 Mayor candidate
1 District Council candidate
5 At-Large Council candidates
2 City Commissioners
1 Register of Wills
2 Superior Court Judges
6 Court of Common Pleas Judges
1 Municipal Court Judge
4 Ballot Questions