BREAKING NEWS: Philly candidate receives major endorsements
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
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.