(Foto: Sora Shimazaki/Ilustrativa Pexels)

On November 2nd, 2021, Philadelphians of all walks of life will go to the polls to exercise their right to choose their own governing leadership at the local level.  The positions being decided at the polls are district attorney, city controller, common pleas judges, and municipal court judges. 

Many city residents may not know what these roles are responsible for and may not know much about the candidates who are running for these offices.  However, the people in these positions are playing a very significant and influential role in helping us manage our civil society.  The district attorney’s office works with the police department and court system to prosecute crimes and helps keep the city safe.  The city controller is described in the city’s website as “the independent financial watchdog for the City of Philadelphia, [whose] mission [is] to promote the effective and efficient operation of Philadelphia government by identifying cost savings, recommending best practices and modernization, and exposing fraud and mismanagement.” The common pleas and municipal court judges are responsible for presiding over both criminal and civil cases, applying the law, and issuing fair sentences.  The district attorney and city controller both serve a four-year term, while municipal court judges serve a six-year term and common pleas judges serve a ten-year term.

The campaigns leading up to the election are like the candidates interviewing with the entire city for the job, and the people get to decide who is hired.  Although in some cases the law dictates how they must perform the duties of the job, there are differences in how each one approaches the role.  Political and ideological differences can influence how each candidate would perform in the role – for example, some candidates might take either a harsher or more lenient approach to certain kinds of crimes, such as first-time offenses, different kinds of drug-related crimes, and gun violence.  Some candidates might support diversionary programs for juveniles or could advocate for reforms to help ex-offenders re-enter society.  These differences in beliefs and approaches are highlighted during the campaign period, and Philadelphians must decide how they think the various jobs should be performed.  Detailed information about each candidate is available online, for people who don’t know much about the candidates to learn more. 

This year, the following candidates are running in the general election for each office.  Each of these candidates won the primary election in May for their parties.

District Attorney:

Lawrence Krasner (D – Incumbent)

Chuck Peruto (R)

City Controller:

Rebecca Rhynhart (D)

*No Republican candidate running

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (8 seats)

Cateria McCabe (D – Incumbent)

Daniel Suman (D – Incumbent)

Wendi Barish (D)

Chris Hall (D)

Michelle Hangley (D)

Nick Kamau (D)

Craig Levin (D)

Betsy Wahl (D)

*No Republican candidate running

Philadelphia Municipal Court (3 seats)

Michael Lambert (D)

George Twardy Jr. (D)

Greg Yorgey-Girdy (D)

*No Republican candidate running

Additional judges in both courts must undergo a retention election to remain in their posts. 

The deadline to register for this election is October 18th.

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