The 2020 Candidate Pledge

The following is a re-post of an email recently sent by the Indivisible Team, initially introduced in April. Since then 29,000 grassroots activists have signed on to the pledge. It reads as follows:

We must defeat Donald Trump. The first step is a primary contest that produces a strong Democratic nominee. The second step is winning the general election. We will not accept anything less. To ensure this outcome, I pledge to:

Make the primary constructive. I’ll respect the other candidates and make the primary election about inspiring voters with my vision for the future.

Rally behind the winner. I’ll support the ultimate Democratic nominee, whomever it is — period. No Monday morning quarterbacking. No third-party threats. Immediately after there’s a nominee, I’ll endorse.

Do the work to beat Trump. I will do everything in my power to make the Democratic Nominee the next President of the United States. As soon as there is a nominee, I will put myself at the disposal of the campaign.

Take the pledge. Share it on social media.

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22nd Ward Open Caucus Makes Endorsements For May 21 Democratic Primary Election

The following is a press release issued today by a group that I strongly support in an effort to bring democratic practices to the Democratic Party in Philadelphia.

A group of Democratic committeepeople in Philadelphia’s 22nd Ward met on Thursday May 9th for the purpose of endorsing candidates who will be on the May 21 Democratic primary election ballot. The political association, known as the 22nd Ward Open Caucus, was created earlier this year to promote a more open, accessible, and democratic ward system; to share knowledge among committeepeople; and to increase voter participation.

The caucus issued a written request to all candidates appearing on the ballot asking them to provide brief questionnaire responses and appear at the recent candidates meet and greet at the New Covenant Church in Mt. Airy, and 35 candidates responded. “This response lends legitimacy to our caucus and our efforts to give voice to the elected committeepeople in the 22nd Ward and the people they represent” said acting caucus coordinator, Michael Swayze. “The active members of our caucus represent the divisions of our Ward with a high number of registered voters and some of the highest turnouts of all divisions in the City of Philadelphia. Many of us will canvas our divisions for these endorsed candidates.”

The Open Caucus voted to endorse the following slate:
Mayor: Jim Kenney
Council-at-Large: Erika Almirón, Justin DiBerardinis, Derek Green, Helen Gym
City Commissioner: Jen Devor, Kahlil Williams
Court of Common Pleas: Anthony Kyriakakis, Tiffany Palmer
The candidates were approved with a 60% majority vote requirement of those members present and voting.

This press release is also available to download.

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Philadelphia Campaign Finance Report – Cycle 1

Is the amount a candidate has raised correlate to the chances of winning an election? Perhaps not. Asked differently, would you endorse a candidate who has few dollars in the final weeks of a campaign? Available is a recent analysis I’ve completed of contributions received by candidates and the current cash on hand, as of April 1, 2019. This information is publicly available at Philadelphia’s Office of the City Commissioners website in the Campaign Finance Reports page.

A zero in the right most column (# Pages) indicates the candidate did not file a campaign finance report, according to the Office of City Commissioners. The report deadline was April 9, 2019 and complete as of April 1, 2019.

City Commissioner candidates who reportedly have not filed are: Warren Bloom and Annette Thompson.

There are also a number of Council-at-Large candidates who reportedly did not file, as required. They include: Wayne Allen, Latrice Bryant, Devon Cade, Wayne Dorsey and Edwin Santana. Janice Tangradi dropped out of the race near the filing deadline.

You can download this table in spreadsheet format.

Other public webpages on primary races in Philadelphia include: 2019 Philly Primary Candidates, Philly Power Research’s 24 page 2019 Philly Primary Candidates, 2.0 and 2019 Philadelphia Democratic Primary Endorsements – Citywide Races.

Remember, Primary Election Day in Philadelphia is May 21. Be a voter.

Philadelphia Campaign Finance Report – Cycle 1

Candidate Office $ Contributions $ Cash on Hand # Pages
James Kenney Mayor 651,722 655,692 143
Alan Butkovitz Mayor 62,325 50,972 25
Anthony Hardy Williams Mayor 58,500 49,078 11
Kahlil Williams City Commissioner 127,200 170,406 95
Lisa Deeley City Commissioner 91,950 103,916 56
Omar Sabir City Commissioner 63,864 22,519 19
Luigi Borda City Commissioner 43,176 37,460 30
Jen Devor City Commissioner 33,256 33,586 47
Dennis Lee City Commissioner 25,100 12,918 27
Marwan Kreidie City Commissioner 9,657 5,406 21
Moira Bohannon City Commissioner 2,885 -100 34
Carla Cain City Commissioner 1,500 2,352 4
Lewis Harris City Commissioner 0 500 1
Warren Bloom City Commissioner 0
Annette Thompson City Commissioner 0
Allan Domb Council-at-Large 570,079 176,424 *
Helen Gym Council-at-Large 193,900 410,831 *
Justin DiBerardinis Council-at-Large 134,304 190,805 *
Derek Green Council-at-Large 125,405 190,436 62
Eryn Santamoor Council-at-Large 101,434 192,821 *
Katherine Gilmore Richardson Council-at-Large 66,175 52,333 35
Fernando Trevino Council-at-Large 61,457 29,799 38
Erika Almiron Council-at-Large 58,118 55,307 45
Beth Finn Council-at-Large 54,636 6,483 40
Isaiah Thomas Council-at-Large 51,805 69,236 34
Sandra Dungee Glenn Council-at-Large 51,730 31,733 36
Joseph Diorio Council-at-Large 50,000 50,000 4
Sherrie Cohen Council-at-Large 20,503 36,944 29
Ethelind Baylor Council-at-Large 17,840 7,166 19
Deja Lynn Alvarez Council-at-Large 14,587 3,544 50
Adrian Rivera-Reyes Council-at-Large 14,474 10,751 21
Hena Veit Council-at-Large 6,872 1 25
Billy Thompson Council-at-Large 1,855 1,185 5
Ogbonna Hagins Council-at-Large 1,250 0 2
Fareed Abdullah Council-at-Large 1,147 1,232 7
Asa Khalif Council-at-Large 630 283 6
Mark Ross Council-at-Large 600 -69 1
Vinny Black Council-at-Large 0 1
Bobby Curry Council-at-Large 0 1
Wayne Allen Council-at-Large 0
Latrice Bryant Council-at-Large 0
Devon Cade Council-at-Large 0
Wayne Dorsey Council-at-Large 0
Edwin Santana Council-at-Large 0
Janice Tangradi Council-at-Large 0
Jewell Williams Sheriff 45,450 36,385 27
Rochelle Bilal Sheriff 25,086 4,563 22
Malika Rahman Sheriff 11,330 3,654 14
Larry King, Sr. Sheriff 2,275 3,062 6
Mark Squilla District Council 1 86,065 163,742 18
Lou Lanni District Council 1 2,950 454 7
Kenyatta Johnson District Council 2 95,794 520,778 70
Lauren Vidas District Council 2 65,120 68,451 *
Jamie Gauthier District Council 3 132,159 118,523 *
Jannie Blackwell District Council 3 71,190 52,611 19
Curtis Jones, Jr. District Council 4 108,258 93,429 42
Ronald Adams District Council 4 16,604 13,399 15
Karla Cruel District Council 4 16,430 12,245 21
Jeannette Geter District Council 4 5,791 399 8
Omar Woodard District Council 5 58,994 48,332 25
Darrell Clarke District Council 5 56,550 164,770 18
Bobby Henon District Council 6 68,745 122,431 33
Maria Quinones-Sanchez District Council 7 88,505 160,263 53
Angel Cruz District Council 7 12,450 7,448 18
Tonya Bah District Council 8 26,785 33,341 35
Cindy Bass District Council 8 9,475 5,629 18
Cherelle Parker District Council 9 148,185 122,696 42
S. Archye Leacock District Council 9 500 1,225 6
Judy Moore District Council 10 25,035 8,922 25
Taras Smerechanskyy District Council 10 10,875 3,824 20
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DCAid – New Screening Tool For Housing and Energy Programs

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Housing and Community Resources recently launched “DCAid”, an eligibility screen tool to help consumers find housing-related assistance programs for which they may qualify. In a press release, Lt. Governor and DCA Commissioner Sheila Oliver stated, “the DCAid tool is a quick and simple process that allows people to find out if they are eligible for housing assistance programs, utility assistance, homelessness prevention services, and other programs that will help to improve their quality of life.”

The press release further stated: “The eligibility screening process is a series of questions that takes approximately 1-2 minutes to complete. Users can find out if they are eligible for DCA services that provide assistance with rent, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and the State Rental Assistance Program, heating costs, utility bills, removal of lead hazards in the home, Veterans Affair Supportive Housing (VASH), weatherization assistance, and homelessness prevention programs. The results, based on general income and household information entered, will provide the user with a brief description of eligible programs with contact information for the agency where the user can apply.”

To find out if you are eligible for any of these programs visit the eligibility screening tool,

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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 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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