Everything you need to know about Philly’s 2017 primary election

Philadelphians will get the chance to vote on nominees for district attorney and city controller, and to answer two city ballot questions on Tuesday. Winning candidates will go on to the November election.

With DA Seth Williams indicted on federal charges and not running for a third term, the DA’s race has proved dramatic while the competition in the controller’s race has also turned heated.

Not sure whom you’re voting for? Never mind, Metro did your homework for you. Check out our guide to today’s primary below.

Candidates for DA:

Teresa Carr Deni (D)

Before running for district attorney, Teresa Carr Deni served as a municipal court judge in Philadelphia for 21 years. On her campaign website, Carr Deni calls herself “a devoted mom and dedicated family woman, a committed public servant and a stellar jurist.” She claims to be running in the hopes of “restoring confidence and respect to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.”

In 2007, Carr Deni courted controversy when, as a judge, she dismissed charges of sexual assault against a man who had allegedly forced a woman, who was working as a prostitute, to perform sex on other men. Carr Deni downgraded the charges to theft of services. She retired from the bench in December to run for office.

Tariq El-Shabazz (D)

Tariq El-Shabazz served as first deputy in the District Attorney’s Office, under Seth Williams for seven months, before stepping down in February. He also served as an assistant district attorney under former DAs Ronald D. Castille and Lynne Abraham.

The longtime defense attorney with a red beard and more than 20 years of experience, El-Shabazz’s campaign site says that he aims to provide diversion programs for nonviolent offenders, bail reform and prison reform, and he hopes to ensure safer streets and bring transparency to the office.

But he’s taken flak over his ties to Williams and a history of financial debts, including for his daughter’s tuition and rent at his law offices

Joe Khan (D)

John Khan is a Northeast Philadelphia native who left a career at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in order to run for district attorney. With more than 16 years of experience, Khan’s campaign site noted that he began as a prosecutor at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, “where he specialized in prosecuting sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.”

As a father of two young children, Kahn is running on a campaign of “kids first,” meaning he would lead a “Lead Zero” task force aimed at combatting lead contamination in paint as well as continue his work at prosecuting crimes against children. He also hopes to restore integrity to the office and work for safer streets.

Larry Krasner (D)

Larry Krasner has served as a criminal defense attorney for the past 30 years. On his campaign site, Krasner notes that, while a student at Stanford Law School, he “worked for indigenous rights, homeless people and the poor in criminal matters.”

In 1987, he started to work for the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Philadelphia, before starting his own practice in 1993 to focus on civil right and criminal defense. If elected, Krasner’s campaign says he hopes to fight mass incarceration, target serious crimes, stand up for the rights of all Philadelphians and resist the administration of President Donald Trump. Krasner’s campaign has drawn national attention, receiving $1.4 million in funding from George Soros and endorsements from John Legend and activist Shaun King.

Rich Negrin (D)

Former managing director and deputy mayor for the city of Philadelphia, Rich Negrin has served as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and, as noted on his campaign site, has “overseen the growth of PhillyRising, an innovative neighborhood quality-of-life initiative that utilizes technology to help create an improved sense of community and deliver vital services.”

At a young age, Negrin lost his father in a shooting in the city. The East Falls resident is running on a platform of working to fight violent crime, and he has been endorsed by the Philadelphia Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Public Record and the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 5.

Jack O’Neill

Jack O’Neill has worked for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office since Lynne Abraham was district attorney. Since then, he touts having handled, on his campaign site, “over 100 homicide and rape cases, and a specialization in representing survivors of domestic abuse.”

As a candidate, O’Neill hopes to reduce violence in the city by expanding “Focused Deterrence,” a program that his campaign site says is a community-based initiative that has been shown to reduce violent crime in the city. Also, his campaign site says he would “take on gun store and gun shows” and support the city council’s efforts to legislate guns in the city.

Michael Untermeyer (D)

Michael Untermeyer calls himself, on his campaign site, a “community leader, attorney and former prosecutor.”

With 15 years of experience as a prosecutor in Philadelphia – he has served as an assistant district attorney, deputy attorney general and senior deputy attorney general – Untermeyer is running on a campaign to reform the city’s bail system. He has a plan to eliminate cash bail, fix civil asset forfeiture, create a more robust Conviction Integrity Unit, which his campaign site says is “based on what has been successful in [the] Brooklyn district attorney’s office to examine bad convictions and fight for fairness,” and to end the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

Beth Grossman (R)

As the sole Republican, and one of only two women in the race for district attorney, Beth Grossman said she left the District Attorney’s Office in 2015 because she “didn’t like what I saw going on.”

In a recent interview with Metro, Grossman, who served as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office from 1993 to 2015, said she is running to return accountability to the District Attorney’s Office and to work to find new ways for the city to save money.

Also, Grossman has said that she is opposed to the city’s status as a sanctuary city because Philadelphia shouldn’t protect the identity of a “dangerous individual,” and she has said that she would work to ensure that the office returns to a “higher standard of ethics, integrity, transparency and accountability.”

Candidates for Controller:

Alan Butkovitz (D)

Democrat Alan Butkovitz has served as the city controller since 2006. He told Metro in a recent interview that he has fought against corruption and abuse of power in the city of Philadelphia, with notable tussles with former Philadelphia Schools Chief Paul Vallas and disgraced former Sheriff John Green.

According to Butkovitz’s campaign, in his term in office, the City Controller’s Office has amassed $800 million in revenue and savings for the taxpayers, and he hopes to continue as a fiscal watchdog for city taxpayers. His campaign touts that Butkovitz is hoping to keep the office modern as they have recently used low-cost drones, “piloted by experienced videographers, to inspect properties and identify dangerous buildings on the verge of collapse.”

His campaign site also notes that Butkovitz launched the nation’s first fraud reporting app, intended to allow citizens to report waste directly to his office. 

Rebecca Rhynhart (D)

Formerly the city’s treasurer and budget director under Mayors Michael Nutter and Jim Kenney, Rebecca Rhynhart said in a recent interview with Metro that she decided to run for office after watching the political rise of Donald Trump.

Ryhnhart said that she feels that “government didn’t always make the best financial choices for themselves.” She has said that her opponent is part of the political machine in the city and she wanted to run to bring change to the controller’s office.

Rhynhart is running on a campaign of bringing additional transparency to the controller’s office and has said that, if elected, she would want an audit of the Philadelphia Parking Authority as well as one of the controller’s office itself. 

Ballot questions

Residents will face two ballot questions.

-Lowest price v. best value: The city wants to be able to award contracts based on “best value,” instead of just “lowest price.” City Councilman Bobby Henon introduced the bill, arguing most cities use the “best value” standard and saying the contracts process will be “transparent.”

-Philadelphia Community Reinvestment Commission: The city wants to form a  21-member commission to recommend how public, private and philanthropic entities can invest in communities together.

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