District Council Races: Replace Joseph Coleman

Posted: October 21, 1987

"All politics," as former House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill is fond of saying, "is local." And nowhere is politics more local than in the races for Philadelphia's 10 district seats on City Council. For these office- holders, the pressure to fix potholes, staff recreation centers, clean dirty streets and curb drug-pushing often competes for attention with loftier, citywide concerns. But because they hold the balance of power on the 17-member council, district members also play a critical role in shaping the city's agenda.

As Council president, the Eighth District's Joseph E. Coleman, a Democrat, has failed both in guiding that agenda - the foundering response to the trash crisis is a case in point - and managing a Council where power trips and petty vendettas sidetrack city business.

Mr. Coleman's effort to put former councilman and Abscam convict Harry Jannotti on the city payroll last year perfectly symbolized his modus operandi. And confidence in his leadership hardly soared after disclosures that he'd been doling out "discretionary funds" to Council members.

The Inquirer supports his opponent DeLores Weaver, an articulate, anti- Rizzo Republican, who lives in Chestnut Hill and works as an administrator at the Community College of Philadelphia. She is a political newcomer who is conversant with the issues. But perhaps her strongest qualification is that she is not Joseph Coleman.

In the remaining district races, this is how the Inquirer surveys the landscape.

* First (South Philadelphia, Society Hill and the lower river wards). Republican Constance M. McHugh, a longtime Pennsport activist, is a better choice than former Councilman James J. Tayoun, a Democrat and one of the city's premier political wheeler-dealers.

* Second (parts of Center City, South and Southwest Philadelphia). Democrat Anna C. Verna has indulged in political favoritism on occasion. But on the whole, she has a record of conscientious service and deserves re-election over her Republican challenger George Hatton.

* Third (West Philadelphia). Democratic incumbent Lucien E. Blackwell works hard for his district and is a power on Council. Were he being seriously challenged, it might be worth discussing some of his deficiencies. Unfortunately, his opponent is Roy Calarese, 29, a Republican, who has a lot of gripes about city services but few realistic solutions.

* Fourth (East Falls, Manayunk, Roxborough, Overbrook and Wynnefield). In this case, the Republican upstart, David N. Singer, 25, seems to be reaching out to diverse populations, forging coalitions and promoting programs that make sense. As a former director of constituent services for Councilman Thacher Longstreth, he presumably knows how to deliver. Incumbent Democrat Ann J. Land has been a disappointment.

* Fifth (North Philadelphia and parts of Center City). Democratic incumbent John F. Street can be offensive in his dealings with colleagues. And it didn't look too good when Mr. Street, the chairman of the Council's Appropriations Committee, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. But there's agreement that he is one of the brighter, harder-working members on council and a powerful spokesman for his district. His opponent, Republican Michael Anthony Pinckney, does not present a serious alternative.

* Sixth (part of the Northeast and some river wards). Council's Democratic majority leader Joan Krajewski is facing a vigorous, well-financed challenge by Republican Kevin Pasquay. Mr. Pasquay has done his homework and has demonstrated against risky chemical storage plans in the district. But Mrs. Krajewski has a good track record on serving her district and has challenged - not always successfully - some of the crasser shenanigans on Council. Mr. Pasquay talks a good game, but The Inquirer is not convinced he could do a better job.

* Seventh (Logan, Hunting Park and part of the lower Northeast). Here again, Republican Jack Kelly demonstrates a grasp of the issues and an impatience with business-as-usual on council. But Patricia A. Hughes, the Democratic incumbent, seems to have grown in office, tackling her district's workaday problems - from underdevelopment to abandoned cars - with genuine commitment. It is a close call, but Ms. Hughes is a known quantity, while Mr. Kelly is unproven.

* Ninth (Oak Lane, West Oak Lane, Olney and other north-central neighborhoods) - Former City Commissioner Marian B. Tasco, a Democrat, has a distinquished record of public service, both in voter registration drives and as a dependable aide to U.S. Rep. William Gray 3d. She is clearly the better choice over Republican novice Janet Newis Moore. Mrs. Moore, however, has shown an impressive personal commitment to her long-shot campaign, evidence of heartfelt concern for bettering conditions in the district.

* Tenth (Far Northeast) - Republican incumbent Brian J. O'Neill is facing token opposition from Democrat Cathy McAleer, who is mounting a belated candidacy. Mr. O'Neill is expected to win handily and that alone speaks to voter satisfaction with his record in serving the district.

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