Philadelphia’s Democratic party voted Friday not to support Sheriff Jewell Williams for re-election because of sexual harassment allegations against him.
Three women have made harassment complaints against the sheriff. Two were settled with cash payments. Another is still pending in federal court.
Despite that, on Monday the party’s policy committee recommended endorsing Williams, who is a Democratic ward leader.
Party chairman Bob Brady explained to reporters after the full body of ward leaders met that they reversed that early decision.
“We thought about it. It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “We want to get it right. We met again, and we re-visited it. We got it right.”
Asked if the allegations made against Williams concern him, Brady said, “absolutely, come on.”
A public debate
While ward leaders were meeting at the Democratic party headquarters on Spring Garden St. near 2nd, dueling protests were underway outside the sheriff’s office on South Broad Street.
Jacqueline Wiggins was among a group that said Williams’ conduct disqualifies him from serving in his post.
“He needs to resign, and the reality is that we are tired of these accusations coming forward and nothing happens, and someone gets paid off,” Wiggins said. “Time’s up. It’s time for someone else to take over.”
A larger group of Williams’ supporters shouted their support for the sheriff.
Terry-Lynn Turner said there was no proof Williams did anything wrong.
“The same as Bill Cosby, the woman knows she was going to a married man’s house and now you come back with that,” she said. “Same thing with Joe Biden. He shows affection, now this woman comes up and says she was sexually harassed.”
The party is not endorsing any of the four candidates in the sheriff’s race, so individual ward leaders may still support Williams.
Asked what he would do in his Overbrook ward, Brady said, “I don’t know yet.”
Backing from ward leaders can have considerable impact in races were voters know little about those running, since the endorsed candidates’ names and lever numbers appear on recommended ballots handed out at polling places.
The ward leaders ratified the recommendations made in Monday’s policy committee meeting with one exception besides Williams.
For the two open City Council at-large seats, the party is backing Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas. On Monday, the policy committee voted to recommend Sandra Dungee Glenn over Thomas.
Here are the endorsements made by the Democratic City Committee Friday:
Mayor: Jim Kenney
City Council District races:
District 1 – Mark Squilla
District 2 – Kenyatta Johnson
District 3 – Jannie Blackwell
District 4 – Curtis Jones
District 5 – Darrell Clarke
District 6 – Bobby Henon
District 7 – Angel Cruz
District 8 – Cindy Bass
District 9 – Cherelle Parker
District 10 – Judy Moore
City Council at-large:
Allan Domb, Helen Gym, Derek Green, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Isaiah Thomas
City Commissioners: Lisa Deeley, Omar Sabir
Register of Wills: Ronald Donatucci
Common Pleas Court: Joshua Roberts, Sherman Toppin, Cateria McCabe, Anthony Kyriakakis, Carmella Jaquinto, Henry Sias
Municipal Court: David Conroy
State Superior Court: Daniel McCaffery, Amanda Green-Hawkins