Reports from the Philly Board of Elections office on petition-deadline day [updated]

As the clock hands moved toward Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline for candidates seeking citywide office to file nomination petitions with the County Board of Elections, activity started picking up on the first floor of City Hall.

Update: Here is a PDF of the unofficial signature tallies from Tuesday’s petition submissions (PDF).

9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

It was slow going in the early hours.

Incumbent councilmembers Dennis O’Brien, David Oh and (a representative of) Maria Quinones-Sanchez and challengers Matt Wolfe (R, at large), Derek Green (D, at large), Manny Moralez (D, 7th) and Joseph G. Guerra (D, at large) didn’t need to wait in line to turn their paperwork in.

NinetyNine had a chance to speak with both Wolfe and Oh, who will face off against one another in the Republican at-large council race.

For his part, Wolfe said he’d like to finish in the top seven — the top two Republican vote-getters earn council seats regardless of where they fall in the overall council tally — because “I’d like to see five Republicans there.”

He said he expected Republican council members “voting along a crowd that is hurting Philadelphia” to be among the issues in the primary, as well as the unanimous vote on the “resign to run” requirement that “we the people beat down” and the dicey Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) non-sale.

“When they killed the PGW deal, that was a bad decision on the merits and absolutely ridiculous in terms of process. They did it without a hearing. None of them had the nerve to call for a hearing,” he said.

“We need a Republican Party that stands up for the people of Philadelphia ’cause nobody on City Council is doing that right now,” he continued. “There’s always room for compromise in a legislature. That’s part of what we do, but there are certain things that we can’t compromise and I believe that the incumbent City Council, Democrat and Republican, compromised way too much and it’s hurt the city.”

For his part, Oh noted that he has raised more than twice the amount of money that his challengers have, and turned in 2,837 signatures which he garnered by knocking on doors “the old-fashioned way.” He cited party support despite the fact that foes are claiming that incumbents don’t have that backing.

Claiming that bipartisan cooperation has hurt the party is “easy to say as an arm-chair Republican or arm-chair quarterback,” he said.

“Our job is not to, in my opinion, be obstructionists or people who just blame Democrats,” Oh said. “Our job is to represent the people of the city and, particularly from a Republican perspective, to add to [the discussion of] how we solve the critical problems of our city: Education, jobs, quality-of life issues. …

“I work with Republicans. I work with Democrats. I will sometimes be the only person to vote against something on council. … Most of the time, we are not just going to be opposed to something someone is doing.”

12:15 p.m.

There was enough downtime for Board of Elections workers to discuss the possibility of starting a Facebook page for the vintage Horn and Hardart’s coffee can used in next week’s ballot-position lottery drawing.

It looks like this could really happen, though it remains unclear whether the can will be taken to various places throughout the city and globe for a prospective photo montage as suggested.

12:15-1 p.m.

Any worries that this would be a boring deadline day disappeared when two well-known names (mayoral candidate Milton Street and Democratic at-large candidate Frank Rizzo Jr.) and one lesser-known name (Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey) showed up in lunch-time succession.

We’ll take them one at a time.

Milton, being Milton, spoke about the difficulties of getting signatures this year, what with the cold weather and a supermarket chain banning him from seeking support in its stores.

That, and the fact that he forgot to bring a complete candidate’s affidavit and statement of financial interest when he brought his petitions.

“People won’t stop when it’s cold outside to write, and when you go inside, they were talking about ‘no solicitation,'” Street said.

“We went to wherever we could, mainly McDonald’s, because a lot of people hang out at the McDonald’s,” he continued. “They kicked us out of the VA [Medical Center] saying ‘you can’t solicit in here.’ So my son was, like, ‘I’m a veteran.’ They asked if he had an appointment! ‘Yeah, to get some signatures.’ ‘Get out!'”

In any event, Street estimated that he had roughly 4,000 signatures in advance of probable challenges which, when he ran against Mayor Michael Nutter in 2011, notified voters that he was running since he had no money to advertise.

“I want people to challenge my petitions!” he said, before requesting candidate Tony Williams’ because he suspected he’d find bogus signatures. (Those will be available to the campaigns on Wednesday, a dissemination that will likely lead to legal challenges across all races).

For his part, Rizzo — who lost in 2011 as an incumbent Republican councilman and is now running as a Democrat — explained his hankering to get back in the game after personally getting 3,000 of the estimated 5,000 signatures he submitted.

“I missed public service. You know, it’s in my blood,” he said. “My dad [former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo Sr.] had an expression: ‘Wear out, don’t rust out,’ and at the end of the day, when you think about the good stuff you’ve done, you get a good night’s sleep.”

When Bailey submitted more than 2,200 signatures to the Board of Elections staff, she was the lone Republican candidate to have done so at that point. (In an email to NinetyNine, Elmer Money said Monday that he wouldn’t pursue office because of signature-accumulation issues).

She, too, noted how the weather created problems “but it wasn’t just me. There were hundreds of people out there with me in the cold with freezing fingers and freezing ink in the pens as well.”

She was asked why she’s running for mayor.

“I’m tired of the same old thing,” she said. “I want families in Philadelphia to be able to raise their families, stay in the city, have a good-paying jobs and schools they can send their kids to.”

2-2:30 p.m.

Chris Brennan and Julia Terruso of the Inquirer are reporting that the Rev. Keith Goodman, who had some residency issues brought to light after announcing he’d run for mayor, will not run after all but that declared candidate Doug Oliver (and his 4,125 signatures) will.

After 5 p.m.

County Board of Elections staff closed the door promptly at 5 o’clock after representatives for two candidates had run their petitions down the hall with just minutes to spare. 

And now the field of candidates running to be Philadelphia’s next mayor is officially set – six democrats and one republican will appear on the primary ballot in May. 

Yes, that includes Milton Street who returned to City Hall around 4:30 p.m. with his candidate’s affidavit and statement of financial interest. 

“I’ll be on the ballot,” he told NinetyNine. 

Juan Rodriguez, the North Philadelphia man who (we’re pretty sure) announced his candidacy in a strip club, did not file the necessary paperwork. Perpetual write-in candidate Queena Bass is not required to turn in nominating petitions. 

Five of the 10 district council seats will have primary contests. A big field of 21 democrats and 7 republicans are running for council-at-large seats. In the primaries, each party will pick five candidates to be on the ballot in the fall.

A total of 68 people running for various offices filed with the Board of Elections today, according to staffers. Click here to see the full list. 

Elections Supervisor Tim Dowling said his staff makes sure each candidate has fulfilled the minimum requirements, but now it’s up to their opponents to bring the real scrutiny.

“You’ll have a lot of people that’ll go down to our Delaware Avenue office and start looking up the signatures line by line,” Dowling said. “If they get enough to knock a person off, they’ll definitely be filing with the court to challenge that petition in court and then they have to prove their case.”

In other words, the fun has only just begun. 

NewsWorks/WHYY’s Katie Colaneri contributed reporting. 

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