Joe Grace, until recently the director of the gun control group CeaseFirePA, will take on veteran Philadelphia City Councilman Frank DiCicco in the spring Democratic primary.
“I’ve shown I have the mettle to stand up against a huge special interest lobby like the NRA,” Grace said in a phone interview, “and that’s the kind of fighting spirit and toughness I want to bring to this district.”
Grace ran unsuccessfully for a City Council-at-large seat in 2003.
It will be tough for Grace tackle an incumbent such as DiCicco, but he said voters unhappy that DiCicco wants another term after signing up for the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Program, known as DROP.
“If you’re going to take a retirement, lump-sum, pension payment of more than $425,000, then the reasonable thing that voters would expect is that you would retire,” Grace said.
Under the program, a city employee agrees to retire at a point four years into the future, and collects a large escrowed payment when he or she leaves.
DiCicco says he signed up for the program four years ago then had a “change of heart” and decided not to retire. But he insisted he won’t be double-dipping in his next term.
“If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected, I will contribute my entire salary back to the city of Philadelphia,” DiCicco said. He said he would donate his salary to a special city fund that supports community and recreation programs in his district, which includes much of South Philadelphia, Center City and parts of the river wards in the lower Northeast.
Mike Boyle, an attorney and Democratic leader of the 5th Ward in Center City, said he’s in the race, along with Jeff Hornstein, an organizer for the Service Employees International Union.
Other candidates may yet emerge for the May 17 primary.