Dillard out in the 8th; Seven candidates remain

Democratic committee-person, Jordan Dillard of Mt. Airy was knocked out of the race for Philadelphia City Council’s Eighth District Tuesday, by challenges to signatures on his nominating petitions.

It was Dillard’s first foray into politics beyond the committee level; he found it an education. “The municipal primary is a difficult environment to say the least,” he said.

Like several candidates before him, Dillard faced lawyers associated with another Democratic candidate for the Eighth, Cindy Bass. The challenges were standard fare for politics – claims that there were not enough valid signatures on Dillard’s nomination petitions.

Dillard hoped to counter those challenges by using the same argument that three other candidates made successfully on Monday. Specifically, he tried to tell the judge that portions of the challenges against him were filed late. It didn’t work.

The reason, according to Dillard, was simple: “I was the fool who represents himself,” he quipped.

Dillard said he simply could not convince the judge to apply the same decision to his case as went to the cases of fellow Eighth District candidates Andrew Lofton, William Durham and Robin Tasco. They avoided a line-by-line examination of the names on their petitions because of a technicality that made portions of the challenge motions against them late.

Without that argument available to him, the judge found that Dillard had too few eligible signatures on his nomination petitions.

Dillard’s removal from the ballot for the May 17 primary election brings the total number of candidates to seven who are vying for the City Council seat that incumbent Donna Reed Miller will retire from next year.

On Friday Democratic candidate Fay Dawson was also knocked off the ballot with similar legal challenges.

Late Tuesday night Dillard enjoyed a meal among friends at McMenamin’s Tavern in Mt. Airy. It’s such a haunt for him that when he was served notice of the legal challenge to his nomination last week, the courier found him there.

But it’s also a place where he’s known as someone who thinks seriously about city issues. The reason he got into the race in the first place was to, at the least, broaden the scope of the public debate beyond the standard political fare.

“I stay awake at night and I think about the kids and the old people,” he said. “What I was hoping to do was make it to the debate and get the issues out there.”

Some of the issues he most wanted to push were developing historical tourism across the Eighth District, in part, by pressuring SEPTA to re-instate the 23 trolly, and to freeze real estate taxes for seniors.

Dillard said he will make an endorsement in the Eighth District race soon and begin campaigning for that candidate.

Lawyers for Tasco and Durham expect to face an appeal late this week on the judge’s decision that allowed their candidates to stay in the race. There is no word yet about whether such an appeal is in the works.

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