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Archive for the ‘2017 Philadelphia Municipal Elections’

Electioneering in District 197 Must Wait for Judge09.18.17

Green Party, GOP must wait to find out if they can sue over special election
METRO, Friday, September 15, 2017

Attorneys for Green Party candidate Cheri Honkala and former Republican candidate Lucinda Little will need to wait to find out if a federal court will hear their case alleging electioneering in the city’s 197th district.

The parties on both sides of a potential lawsuit that claims illegal electioneering took place during a special election in Pennsylvania House District 197 will need to wait more than six weeks before they will know if the case will be heard in federal court.
During a hearing held Thursday afternoon, after hearing arguments from the many attorneys involved in the case – including those for the candidates who lost the March 21 special election, Green Party candidate Cheri Honkala and Republican candidate Lucinda Little, as well as those for the Democratic City Committee, the Board of City Commissioners, the Department of State, state Rep. Mike Turzai and Democrat Emilio Vazquez, who won the election – Judge Joel H. Slomsky requested all parties involved to submit supplemental materials after they receive a transcript of the day’s proceedings before he would rule on whether the case could be brought to trial.

Lawyers for both Honkala and Little, as well as the Republican City Committee, contend that the pair were deprived of a fair election, with several alleged examples being brought up in court, including poll workers going as far as following voters into voting booths on the day of the election in order to force voters to cast their ballot for Vazquez. “This is massive fraud on a regular basis, and we have to stop it if we can,” Sam Stretton, an attorney for Honkala, told the judge during the hearing.
For their part, attorneys for Vazquez, the Democratic City Committee, the Board of Commissioners and the Department of State and Turzai all provided arguments on having the case thrown out, with many noting that there were other ways to solve an election issue, like contesting the election results, rather than bringing it to federal court.
However, Stretton argued that they have reviewed all avenues available to them and have determined that the most appropriate action was to file a federal lawsuit hoping to void the results of the election that put Vazquez in office. They also claimed that their rights under the Federal Voting Rights Act and Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Election Codes were violated during the election. “We did not bring this lightly,” said Stretton. “This is a pattern where everything that could happen wrong, happened wrong.”
While both parties saved specifics of their cases for the full trial, Linda Kerns, an attorney for Little and the Republican City Committee, said that, if the case were brought to trial, they could prove that poll workers gave write-in voters stamps that forced them to vote for Vazquez and had images that could prove at least four people – “eight legs,” as she told the judge – could be seen in one voting booth in the district, which she said indicated that poll workers followed voters into polls in order to manipulate their votes.
At the end of the hearing, Slomsky said that he looked forward to reading through forthcoming supplemental materials and would let all parties involved know if the case could be brought to trial after he had done so. Slomsky’s decision isn’t expected to be heard for at least six weeks, as obtaining a transcrtipt of Thursday’s hearing is expected to take 30 days, and the attornies have an additional two weeks to submit additional materials.
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Jules for Judge Campaign Secures Ballot Access08.18.17

Here’s Why to Vote for Jules

http://www.gp.org/jules_for_judge_ballot_access

The Campaign to Elect Jules Mermelstein to the Pennsylvania Superior Court is thrilled to announce that thanks to the efforts of volunteers across 44 counties, he will be on the ballot for the November 7, Pennsylvania General Election. More than 4,300 Pennsylvania voters submitted their signatures for the campaign to nominate Jules for Judge. On Friday, July 28, nearly double the signatures needed to place Jules Mermelstein on the ballot were submitted. None were challenged over the following days.

Mermelstein has worked as an attorney, and both as a high school and college government teacher. He spent more than two decades teaching Sunday school to teens and was elected five terms as a township official. Mermelstein has never had a single ethics complaint made against him. In fact, in two of Mermelstein’s bids for Upper Dublin Township Commissioner, he was endorsed by both major parties. Now, as a Green Party candidate, Mermelstein believes he will bring much-needed nonpartisan integrity to a judicial system that has been plagued by corruption.

Recently, Mermelstein was proud to appear at a candidate press conference for the Annual National Meeting of the Green Party of the United States, where he described his thoughts on injustices throughout Pennsylvania that have left voters seeking third party options. The issues he focused on include corruption in Pennsylvania courts and the constitutional right to have clean air and water.

“As a former criminal defense attorney,” Mermelstein told Green Party members from around the U.S., “I am fully aware of the racism inherent in that system. I actually argued a case once to a judge that the commonwealth hadn’t proven my client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and his response from the bench in open court was, ‘The fact that your client’s black makes it worse.’ I took that appeal actually to the court I’m running for and got an order for a new trial before a different judge.”

Mermelstein continued, “Pennsylvanians are lucky in that we have a constitutional right to a clean environment. Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states that we’re entitled to clean air and pure water… Our state Supreme Court has repeatedly slapped down administrations — both Republican and Democrat — who have tried to cozy up to the fracking industry. This has not stopped that activity. We need judges throughout the system to recognize people’s right to a clean environment.”

The Jules for Judge Campaign has volunteers — Green and all others welcome — canvassing in towns across the state, and Mermelstein himself has been traveling tirelessly since his candidacy was announced. Be sure to check the campaign calendar to see when Mermelstein will be in your region and don’t forget to mark your calendars to vote November 7 and elect Jules Mermelstein as Superior Court Judge!

Follow Jules for Judge: https://www.facebook.com/Mermelstein4Judge and https://twitter.com/Jules4Judge.
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GPOP Statement on Primary Election Results05.21.17

Green Party of Philadelphia’s Statement on Tuesday’s Election Results

http://www.gp.org/philly_greens_on_primary_results

With preliminary results of the 2017 Primary Election now in, and given the Democratic Party’s stranglehold on our city’s politics, it is clear that Larry Krasner will be Philadelphia’s next District Attorney. It is the Green Party of Philadelphia’s hope that Krasner will abandon the longstanding pattern of corruption established by our city’s elected officials, as most recently exemplified by our present District Attorney, Seth Williams.

The Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP, WWW.gpop.org) calls upon Krasner, if elected District Attorney, to bring an end to a criminal justice system that criminalizes poverty and race while letting white-collar corporate crimes go unpunished. The Green Party recognizes that Krasner’s platform includes many reforms which are in line with our party’s key values, and we hope that he honors these pledges in office, specifically:

In a city that is 43% African American, the Green Party calls for a District Attorney who reflects the truth that “Black lives matter” not only in his rhetoric, but also in his actions.
In a city where (according to the ACLU of Pennsylvania) 25% of pedestrian stops by police are made without reasonable suspicion and 80% of those pedestrians are people of color, the Green Party calls for a District Attorney who will push for an end to stop-and-frisk and who will refuse to bring cases resulting from these illegal, racist practices.
Only a few weeks after Philadelphia police arrested 22 people in Frankford for marijuana, the Green Party calls for an end to the failed War on Drugs and for the legalization of drug possession.
Only days after Philadelphians raised nearly $58,000 for the “Mama’s Bail Out Day” campaign, the Green Party calls for the elimination of a cash bail system that is designed to keep low-income people behind bars.
Finally, the Green Party calls for a District Attorney who will never pursue the death penalty – a barbaric practice that brings neither closure nor healing, but only more pain and victims.

In addition to restoring the idea of “justice” to our criminal justice system, Philadelphia’s next District Attorney must guarantee voters’ right to fair elections. We witnessed an astonishing attack of this right in March’s special election in PA House District 197, which was rampant with election fraud and voter intimidation. We demand that the next District Attorney continues the investigation into the special election and takes concrete steps to ensure election integrity.

Finally, we must highlight the urgent need for electoral reform as demonstrated by this election.
Krasner won the primary with 38% of the vote, representing only 6% of the city’s registered voters. A system where a candidate can win office, despite only a minority of voters casting their ballots for him, is an insult to democracy. Therefore, the Green Party calls for Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), where voters rank candidates in their order of preference and a candidate only wins if they obtain majority support.
We must also acknowledge the legalized bribery that is our campaign finance system. Total spending in this election is expected to double what was spent in Philadelphia’s last competitive primary for District Attorney. Indeed, Krasner’s campaign was supported both by grassroots efforts and by a super PAC funded by George Soros; we hope that his actions as District Attorney will be influenced by the people of Philadelphia and not by an outside billionaire. Therefore, the Green Party calls for the full public financing of elections and for stricter limits on campaign spending and contributions.

The Green Party is an independent political party founded on the four pillars of grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social justice. For information about the Green Party of Philadelphia, please call 215-843-4256 or email gpop@gpop.org. Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.
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This news release also appeared online in Mass Central (Where the Masses Converge).
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Major Endorsements for Honkala in 19703.12.17

BREAKING NEWS: Philly candidate receives major endorsements

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

http://www.gp.org/honkala_receives_major_endorsements

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Cheri Honkala, a well-known Kensington-based anti-poverty activist and candidate for Pennsylvania State Representative in District 197 has been endorsed by a national progressive political action organization, Our Revolution, and a local progressive group, Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks.
Our Revolution, the group kicked off by 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, announced its endorsement for Honkala on Tuesday. Andrea Putnam, former Bernie campaign director for Pennsylvania and current Honkala GOTV director, praised the announcement. “Our Revolution’s endorsement only amplifies Cheri’s lifetime commitment to fighting for the people, who are tired of politics-as-usual at both local and national levels.”

“Cheri Honkala is running a truly grassroots campaign this is of, by, and for the people of Pennsylvania’s 197th legislative district,” said Tim Canova, who garnered the support of progressives nationwide when he vied for the seat of then-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a Florida congressional district. “Her campaign—with its message of human rights and justice for the 99 percent—presents an opportunity for a great progressive breakthrough,” Canova said. “Progress For All and Tim Canova are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Cheri at this historic moment.”

Honkala was also recommended by the PEOPLE Committee of one of the city’s largest labor unions representing public-service workers, A.F.S.C.M.E. District Council 47, for an official union endorsement by the full delegation. That endorsement came a day after Honkala met with members of A.F.S.C.M.E District 47 — the initials stand for the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees — to explain what makes her most qualified to represent one of Pennsylvania’s poorest legislative districts. Honkala says she is honored to have been recommended for a labor union endorsement. “The members of A.F.S.C.M.E District Council 47 know me well,” she said. “I have spent the better part of 30 years fighting alongside local labor unions because it is the right thing to do.”

Former Philadelphia health commissioner and past president of the American Public Health Association Walter Tsou supports Honkala, too.
“Cheri has been fighting for the little guy all her life,” Tsou said. “She is far and away the most progressive candidate in the 197th district and we need her in Harrisburg.”

Cheri Honkala, who has advocated for poor and homeless persons in and around the 197th district for the past 30 years, vowed to continue working with labor unions. “I am not beholden to corporations and political bosses–only to our poor and working class communities,” Honkala said. “If elected, I will continue to be in solidarity with labor unions on the picket line as well as supporting workers’ issues in the state house.”

Honkala’s deep relationships with unions is apparent. Jim Moran, Director Emeritus of Philaposh—an organization created by unions to advocate for the occupational health and safety of public-service workers in Philadelphia—gushed about Honkala. “It’s time to trade in the politics of party for the politics of performance,” Moran said. “Cheri Honkala has a 30-year track record of performing tremendously for labor rights, human rights and the rights of our communities to a better life. I’m proud to have known her, worked with her, and gone to jail with her in these struggles. This is no time to turn our backs on Cheri in the race for State Representative in the 197th District.”

What makes Honkala’s race even more exciting and relevant is she stepped up after two district legislators in a row — both of whom happened to be Democrats — resigned on federal corruption charges. “It’s time to end this legacy of corruption that practices the politics of fear. We need a new voice to advocate for our district in Harrisburg,” Honkala said.

Unfortunately, the powers that be have gotten in the way of Honkala’s path to victory. The Green Party of Pennsylvania campaign submitted paperwork on time to be on the ballot. They asked the state if they needed to submit anything else. The Department of State’s Board of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation said, “no.” The day after the deadline, they got an email saying they needed to submit one more document. They rushed it to Harrisburg that day. It didn’t help, and Honkala was not allowed onto the ballot. The state Supreme Court upheld Friday a lower court’s ruling in a split 4-3 decision that Honkala be kept off the ballot because of the state agency’s clerical error. Undeterred by the ruling, Honkala and her coalition of supporters are organizing a write-in campaign for the special election. In a low-turnout special election, Honkala needs just 1,500 votes to win this special election.

The Democrats’ first candidate was knocked off the ballot because he was not legally qualified to run in District 197 because he does not live in the district. Democrats attempt to place another candidate on the ballot was denied by a court ruling. Republican Lucinda Little will be the only candidate on the ballot.
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Cheri Honkala Lives in District 19703.03.17

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cheri Honkala Lives in District 197, Has Advocated for Philadelphians for Almost 30 Years & Has Won Democratic Ward Endorsement

While Freddie Ramirez Was the Heir to a Legacy of Corruption, Honkala is Building a Coalition of Community Leaders Ready to Fight for Our Basic Human Rights.

http://www.gp.org/honkala_won_dem_ward_endorsement

On Thursday, February 23, Judge Anne Covey removed Freddie Ramirez from the special election ballot for State Representative of the Pennsylvania District 197 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The removal was due to Ramirez not living in the 197th district.

“Some corrupt Democrats thought it could pull a fast one on voters by adding a non-resident onto the ballot,” said Edgardo Gonzalez, chairman of Cheri Honkala’s campaign. “Meanwhile, Cheri Honkala, a resident with a decades-long reputation for helping people in the 197th, is awaiting word on whether she will be allowed on the Green Party’s legally earned ballot line.”

Cheri Honkala lives in the 197th District on North Hancock Street, and is a long-time advocate for poor and homeless persons in Philadelphia. For almost 30 years, she has fought and organized for basic human rights. Cheri has led marches and participated in civil disobedience including for quality education, economic equality, fair elections and debates, basic human rights such as food and housing, as well as for protecting our land and water.

“Cheri took care of my children when I was in a coma because of wrongly prescribed pills. She took us into her already cramped apartment when we were homeless. Right now she’s parenting three foster kids–brothers who would have otherwise been split up had she not left a campaign meeting to go get them,” recalled Liz Ortiz, one of the Honkala campaign’s Ground Team Leaders responsible for door-knocking teams. “Compare that compassion with Leslie Acosta, who pled guilty to fraud and kept it secret from us for a year. Compare it with Freddie Ramirez, hand-picked by Leslie, who doesn’t even live here and or know these communities yet thought he could use us all–not fight for us.”

On February 15, the Commonwealth Court ruled not to accept the Petition for Writ of Mandamus by Cheri Honkala and the Green Party of Pennsylvania to place Honkala on the ballot. While the Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) turned in one paper late, they were explicitly told they had completed all of their paperwork by the Department of State’s Bureau of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation. This decision has been appealed to the state Supreme Court by lawyer Samuel Stretton on behalf of GPPA and Cheri Honkala.

“I’ve been meeting with many community groups, and have had the pleasure of appearing before some Democratic Ward committees. This district is struggling, and they know the same politics-as-usual won’t help our neighbors. Even before Freddie was kicked off the ballot, I’m incredibly honored that Ward 19 endorsed my candidacy for the special election. I’m also looking forward to the write-in training that Ward 16 is hosting tomorrow. Over the next four weeks, I’m going to keep knocking on doors and keep meeting with community, labor, or other leaders. We are building a coalition of people with integrity that are interested in fighting for policies in Harrisburg that truly help this community,” said Cheri Honkala.

Currently, Honkala is planning a write-in campaign because of the Commonwealth Court’s decision last week. “We have already begun write-in training for poll workers and will have these trainings in different wards in the coming weeks. We are distributing literature about Cheri having write-in status, even as we hope for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to recognize that they are denying the Green Party its legal right as a minor party to a special election ballot line,” stated Galen Tyler, campaign manager and chair of the Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP). “Not to mention that they would be upholding a First Amendment violation to voters’ right to expression and assembly.”

“It looks like the Democratic Party may appeal Freddie’s removal, or ask to have another candidate on the ballot. We are sounding the alarm. The Green Party has minor party status. It is legally allowed to have a candidate in special elections. The courts have said so far that because one paper was turned in one day late after officials said everything was in order, Cheri must pursue a write-in campaign,” explained Hillary Kane, treasurer of Honkala’s campaign and outgoing secretary of the GPPA.

“Let’s all be very clear. If Freddie is allowed to stay on the ballot upon appeal or the Democrats are allowed to replace Freddie, our courts will be saying that there are no consequences that the Democratic Party followed the lead of the corrupt, former legislator Acosta by selecting Ramirez, her hand-picked choice. The courts would be saying that Democrats can pick someone who does not even live in the district and he can either stay on the ballot or easily be replaced. But the Green Party? No. We can tell you all your papers are in, not care that you got us that single paper within 24 hours of realizing it was missing, and then kick your candidate who has fought alongside her neighbors for 30 years off the ballot,” said Gonzales.

“We will see what our democracy looks like by how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides these appeals. Either way, the people of the 197th are not going to fall for the corruption and shenanigans of politics-as-usual on March 21st.” Honkala concluded. “We have an opportunity to stand together and fight for basic human rights like food and housing, clean water, quality education, and sanctuary for our neighbors. We are building the #WeAreThe197 coalition that will keep growing through and beyond Election Day. Everyone with the integrity to be serious about fighting for our community’s needs, join us.”

For interviews or additional information, please contact Michael Dennis (Deputy Campaign Manager), 717-873-0588, media@cheri197.com. Learn more about Cheri Honkala.

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Greens Endorse Cheri Honkala in PA District 19702.05.17

Green Party endorses Cheri Honkala for PA State Representative in District 197

By Margaret Neary.

Cheri Honkala, candidate for Pennsylvania State Representative in District 197, has been endorsed by the members of the Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP) at their January 25 General Membership Meeting.

Green Party of Pennsylvania endorsed Cheri Honkala at their State Convention on January 29. Honkala will campaign as the Green Party candidate in a Special Election scheduled for March 21. She ran for Sheriff of Philadelphia in 2011 and for Vice President of the U.S. in 2012.
“Democrats have been playing games with our lives in Philadelphia and especially inDistrict 197, and I plan to do everything I can to change that in Harrisburg,” Honkala said at the GPOP meeting in Roxborough.

Honkala, a formerly homeless, single mother, co-founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union in 1991 and, in 1998, launched the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, where she currently serves as the National Coordinator.

“Cheri has worked tirelessly on behalf of families who face homelessness and poverty long before she ever considered running for office,” said Galen Tyler, chair of the GPOP City Committee. “She knows their pain and the real struggles they face everyday because she has walked in their shoes.”

Chris Robinson, the GPOP membership secretary, declared, “The Green Party is proud to run a candidate with Honkala’s qualifications, dynamism and unbridled opposition to poverty.”

The Special Election is scheduled for Tuesday, March 21, to fill the seat left vacant by convicted felon Leslie Acosta (Democrat), who resigned in January after pleading guilty to a federal felony charge of conspiring to commit money laundering. [Volunteer for Cheri Honkala's Campaign in PA District 197.]

The Green Party is an independent political party founded on the four pillars of nonviolence, grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom and social justice. For information about the next Green Party meeting, please call 215-843-4256 or email gpop@gpop.org. Visit the Green Party of Philadelphia’s website at www.gpop.org.
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2017 Election Dates for Green Party Members12.16.16

2017 PENNSYLVANIA ELECTION DATES Important For Green Party Members

March 8, First day to circulate and file nomination papers

May 16, MUNICIPAL PRIMARY, best date to collect nomination signatures

August 1, Last day to circulate and file nomination papers
August 8, Last day for withdrawal by candidates nominated by nomination papers

October 10, Last day to register to vote before the November election
November 7, MUNICIPAL ELECTION

This information is derived from “2017 PENNSYLVANIA ELECTIONS IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER,” PA Department of State, http://www.dos.pa.gov/VotingElections/CandidatesCommittees/RunningforOffice/Documents/2017%20important%20dates%20final.pdf.

Note: All dates in this calendar are subject to change without notice.

More information from:
Chris Robinson, 215-843-4256
gpop@gpop.org
Membership Secretary
Green Party of Philadelphia
www.gpop.org

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