Perzel loses longtime Pa. House seat to Boyle

Posted: November 03, 2010

Amid legal woes and the toughest fight of his long political career, State Rep. John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) Tuesday lost the seat he has held for more than 30 years.

Democratic newcomer Kevin Boyle, a 30-year-old City Council aide, defeated Perzel in the 172d District race.

Perzel faces trial on charges in the Bonusgate scandal. The former majority leader and speaker, who denies wrongdoing, is accused of using public money for campaign purposes.

Boyle, younger brother of State Rep. Brendan Boyle of the neighboring 170th District, said his victory was a message that voters were against "dirty campaigning." Perzel's legal troubles also figured in, he said.

"My opponent was facing 82 counts of corruption charges," Boyle said. "We can't allow someone to be a part-time representative and a full-time criminal defendant."

Perzel could not be reached for comment.

Perzel knew he was in for a fierce fight for the district, which covers parts of Mayfair, Fox Chase, Rhawnhurst, Tacony, Bustleton, and Lexington Park.

The once-powerful legislator, who has multiple buildings named in his honor in Northeast Philadelphia, has said he knocked on 19,000 doors leading up to Election Day, something he had not done since he first won the seat in 1978.

He still has staunch supporters.

Linda Gaynor, a Republican leader in the 63d Ward in Fox Chase, said that what mattered was that Perzel was always available for constituents, regardless of party affiliation.

"Who am I to sit in judgment of him?" Gaynor asked. "John Perzel has been good for the neighborhood."

But in the end, such support was not strong enough.

Mayfair residents Robert and Nancy Geiss said that although Perzel would be innocent until proved guilty, they supported Boyle.

"His ethics are an issue," Nancy Geiss, 49, said of Perzel.

"Mr. Boyle has some things going for him - he's a young man," said Robert Geiss, 53. "I think it's time for a change."


Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or kgraham@phillynews.com.

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