2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Candidates

The election process works when voters are given information so as to make an informed decision. For this reason a 2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Candidates list has been published. The first step is knowing who are the candidates.

The list represents only declared candidates, those who have “thrown their hat into the ring”. The list covers only Democrats because Philadelphia is a Democratic town. Besides, I’m a Democratic Committee Person in the 22nd Ward. Why advertise the names of Republicans? Let the GOP make up their own list.

A new election cycle has started. Although the Primary Election is not until Tuesday, May 21, 2019, the process begins on February 19 when nominating petitions begin circulating. Candidates have a deadline of March 12 to submit their petitions. Then we will we know who are the official candidates.

Voters deserve time to study the candidates. They should not wait until Election Day to be handed a sample ballot by a campaign worker outside a polling location. Ward committees should know who all the candidates are so they can make their candidate picks. Endorsements should not be dictated by party bosses.

The source material for the list of candidates is derived from a number of sources. It includes: press releases from candidates, newspaper articles, social media announcements, even emails to/from newly declared candidates. The listing of local judicial candidates represents the hard work of Micah Mahjoubian and his excellent PhillyJudges.com website.

The list of candidates include the following offices: Mayor, City Commissioner, Register of Wills, Sheriff, Council-at-Large, District Council, Judge of Court of Common Pleas, Judge of Municipal Court, Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Superior Court and Judge of the Commonwealth Court.

Please contact Michael R. Swayze with any additions or corrections to the 2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Candidates list.

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EITC, Vita Sites And Free File

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for families and individuals who have income from employment. It increases the amount refunded to a taxpayer or reduces the amount of tax owed. You must file a tax return to claim your EITC.

Twenty-eight states, including New Jersey, maintain their own state EITC program. New Jersey taxpayers may receive a credit equal to 37% of their federal credit. It is based on their employment earnings, filing status, number of children and adjusted gross income (AGI).

Income Limits and Maximum EITC Credits

Number of Qualifying Children Single/Head of Household or Widow(er), Income Must be Less Than Married Filing Jointly, Income Must be Less Than Maximum Federal Credit Maximum NJ State Credit
No Child $15,270 $20,950 $519 $192
One Child $40,320 $46,010 $3,461 $1,281
Two Children $45,802 $51,492 $5,716 $2,115
Three or More Children $49,194 $54,884 $6,431 $2,380

Free assistance to prepare and file your federal and state income tax returns are available from a number of organizations and programs, including a United Way listing of New Jersey VITA Sites. You can also access the IRS VITA Site Locator Tool. Free, easy to use online software is available to taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income of $66,000 or less through the Free File program.

The EITC Assistant is an online tool to help determine if a family may qualify for EITC by answering a number of questions. The IRS also publishes a one page fact sheet, IRS Notice 797 and a forty page booklet on EITC, IRS Publication 596.

Employers, have you told your employees about the Earned Income Tax Credit? If not, distribute copies of IRS Notice 1015. The New Jersey Division of Taxation also publishes a Statement to Employees with helpful links and phone numbers.

Nonprofits, advocacy groups and government agencies can participate in outreach efforts by distributing the Division of Family Development’s NJ 2018 EITC Flyer which is included on their EITC page. Groups interested in conducting an outreach campaign or promoting EITC on social media should subscribe to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Get It Back Campaign.

Another option is to download IRS2Go, the official IRS mobile app. You can use it to check the status of your tax refund or find free tax prepartion services, etc.

Philadelphia Area and South Jersey residents can find free tax site locations by visiting the
Campaign for Working Families website.

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Participating In Democracy

Last month New Jersey Legislature leaders tried to pass a partisan gerrymandering bill SCR152/ACR205. Fortunately, a host of public interest groups, organizations and concerned citizens were able to thwart the effort to destabilize fair elections. At a hearing in December, more than 100 progressive individuals testified against the bill. The only supporters were the authors of the bill. The bill was shelved, a win for democracy. In a December 17 press release the League of Women Voters wrote, “They tried to pass these changes quickly and quietly when they thought nobody was paying attention, but we were there to shine a light, to mobilize the opposition, and to ensure voters were educated and their voices were heard. Our work isn’t finished. We now have the opportunity to work collaboratively with legislators and our partners in this fight to advance redistricting reforms that put power in the hands of voters and not politicians.”

This incident in New Jersey should not be treated as an isolated incident. Rather, it should be a reminder that democracy only works when citizens participate. Both Democrats and Republicans cheat the system for their own end. It reminds me of an online lobbying effort I participated in that succeeded in having all New Jersey legislative bills posted on the Internet. During the process one legislator was able to nearly kill the bill. A last-minute amendment on the floor of the State Senate saved the bill. It took a two-year effort to get the reform bill enacted into law. What was learned was to 1) watch a bill every minute because you don’t know what horse-trading will take place and 2) only an overwhelming group of citizen activists can prevail when confronting entrenched power. (Thanks for passage of the Internet bill S1068/A2372 goes to Paul Axel-Lute, a law librarian at Rutgers-Newark, who found a legislator to introduce the bill, to Jim Warren of California who was my mentor in this new area of online lobbying, to the New Jersey Library Association for their political education activities and to Senator Nia Gill of Montclair for rescuing the bill on the floor of the Senate.

If you still need to make a resolution for the New Year you should decide to make your voice heard or join a campaign, but do something to get involved. Perhaps register new voters. Call your elected officials, regularly.

Defending our institutions in these times of political anarchy displayed on Pennsylvania Avenue demands that we stand up. We must be engaged and active in our local communities. Collectively there is power when we work together.

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NJSave – Online Application For Seniors

The New Jersey Division of Aging Services has launched a new online application,
NJSave, for the benefit of older New Jerseyans. It is targeted to individuals with lower income or disabilities. The application makes it easier to evaluate program eligibility in such areas as: prescription drugs (PAAD program), Medicare premiums, utilities (Lifeline Utility Assistance) and other living expenses.

Additional information is available on the Division’s NJSave page.

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How To Respond

The text below was actually an email sent yesterday by Beto O’Rourke, the Congressman from El Paso, Texas who nearly won a U.S. Senate seat. It is worth reading in light of the recent tear gas assault on refugees on our southern border.

We have learned by speaking with one voice change is possible. The 2018 election proved that. We can make a difference by making a gift to organizations that support immigrants. Listed below are a couple organizations you can contribute to during this holiday season.

Email text from Beto O’Rourke:

It should tell us something about her home country that a mother is willing to travel 2,000 miles with her 4-month-old son to come here. Should tell us something about our country that we only respond to this desperate need once she is at our border. So far, in this administration, that response has included taking kids from their parents, locking them up in cages, and now tear gassing them at the border.

People are leaving violent countries where they fear for their lives. Without money, they are subsisting on hope for their kids, for themselves, that they can get to safety. After being denied the ability to lawfully petition for asylum for the last 10 days, they are desperate.

We choose how to respond to this challenge.

Let’s do this the right way and follow our own laws. Allow asylum seekers to petition for asylum at our ports of entry. They must do so peacefully and follow our laws; but we must also ensure the capacity to effectively and timely process those claims (right now 5,000 waiting in Tijuana and only 40 to 100 are processed a day).

Those who have a credible fear of returning to their home country (as determined by a U.S. judge) will be able stay until their full asylum request has been determined. Those applicants ultimately granted asylum will then live in the U.S., make us a better country for being here, and those who are not granted asylum will be returned to their home country.

Longer term: work with the people of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to address underlying conditions that are causing them to flee in the first place. That means addressing effects of our failed past involvement in those countries (in their civil wars, drug trade and drug wars) and the institutional failings in those countries (rule of law).

It won’t be easy and will involve a much greater investment of time, focus and resources. Or we can continue to ignore those countries and their people until they show up at our border.

– Beto

Consider a gift to:
Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition or New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

Remember, today is #GivingTuesday.

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Updated Congressional Delegation List – 116th Congress

Many have made it a practice of contacting their representatives in DC, a habit started in January, 2017. To prepare for and to welcome the 116th Congress, an updated list of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania delegations is available online.

It will be important to let our elected representatives hear our voices.

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ACA Open Enrollment 11/01/18 – 12/15/18

The Open Enrollment Period under the Affordable Care Act is from November 1 to Friday, December 15. Families in need of health coverage can sign up at HealthCare.gov.

The state of New Jersey recently launched a Get Covered NJ website to help people enroll. The site includes information about plan options, financial assistance and contact information for New Jersey consumers who want help to get covered.

As part of the outreach campaign, the state is also working with five community organizations to support enrollment efforts. These organizations are providing application assistance and conducting outreach events. The organizations are:

  • Center for Family Services – 877-922-2377
  • The Family Resource Network – 800-355-0271
  • Oranges ACA Navigator Project – 973-500-6031
  • Fulfill | Monmouth & Ocean – 732-918-2600 or 732-731-1400
  • Urban League of Hudson County – 201-451-8888, ext. 217

New Jerseyans can also call 877-9-NAVIG8 (877-962-8448) to talk about health insurance options and get help enrolling.

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