Clout: In 197th District race, another Street family feud

Posted: February 17, 2012

POLITICS in Philadelphia is often a family business.

That can mean one generation trains the next for public office.

It can also lead to family feuds.

Consider the 197th state House District in North Philly, a vacant seat since Jewell Williams left it last month to become sheriff.

Six Democrats filed nominating petitions yesterday to get on the April 24 ballot for that seat.

One was the sheriff's daughter, the similarly named Jewel Williams, who works for the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Another was T. Milton Street Sr., the former state senator who ran for mayor last year after serving time in federal prison for not paying his taxes.

Street said he "had some ugly words" this week with his nephew Sharif Street, who is supporting Jewel Williams for the House seat. Street says his nephew, son of former Mayor John Street, was promised a job as chief counsel of the Sheriff's Office.

"He's out there working against me," Milton Street said. "This is going to be real ugly because I don't back down or roll over."

Sharif Street, while reluctant to engage in a dispute with his uncle via Clout, called the claim "far-fetched and ridiculous."

He also called Jewel Williams a "fine young candidate."

"I thought that long before I knew my uncle had any interest in this," he added.

Undersheriff Joe Vignola confirmed that Sharif Street had not been offered a job, and noted that the Sheriff's Office does not have a chief counsel.

This is not the first political face-off for the Streets. Milton and Sharif both ran for Council at-large in 2007.

Both lost.

In other weirdness . . .

The stampede of candidates every two years for state House seats can be a confusing affair in a normal electoral season.

Forget normal this year.

Consider the 169th District, also a vacant seat because Denny O'Brien left it last month to become a city councilman.

The seat was moved from Northeast Philly to York County in a redistricting plan in December but returned to the city last month, after the state Supreme Court tossed the plan.

And that's how we have a York County chicken farmer seeking the same job as a Philly labor guy.

Farmer Allan Case, one of three York County Republicans who filed for the seat, said he was advised to submit his nominating petitions by the state deadline yesterday just in case a new redistricting plan brings the seat back to York County this year. Case doesn't expect that to happen.

"We're in a real mess," Case said. "I don't think anyone knows what is happening."

The lone Democrat to file for the 169th is Ed Neilson, a former political director for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Philadelphia who worked in Gov. Ed Rendell's administration.

David Kralle, an O'Brien aide, and John McCann, a civics teacher in Princeton, are running as Republicans from Philadelphia.

About those empty seats

The 186th District seat in South Philly is also vacant since Kenyatta Johnson moved to City Council last month. Six Democrats filed for the 186th yesterday, including former state Rep. Harold James, who lost the seat to Johnson in 2008 after 10 terms.

It had been widely expected that state House Speaker Sam Smith, who calls special elections for vacant seats, would schedule them for the 197th, 169th and 186th for April 24, the same day as the primary election.

Winners in the special election would serve out the year but still need to win the November general election to claim a full two-year term starting next January.

Smith has 10 days from the approval of the redistricting plan to call the special elections. That is in flux as the Legislative Reapportionment Commission tries to regroup with a new plan next week. The Supreme Court would then have to sign off.

So nobody, including the City Commission, which runs elections, knows when the special elections will be held.

Tony Rad: A class act

People come and go in City Hall.

Anthony "Tony Rad" Radwanski figured he'd be one of them when he started working for the city in 1974 while studying political science in night school at Temple.

But one thing led to another and what Radwanski expected to be a short-term job in the City Controller's Office stretched into a 38-year career that ends when he retires today from his post in the City Council president's office.

Radwanski reminisced yesterday about meeting his wife, Kathy, in City Hall and how he visited her father, then sergeant at arms for Council, in his office to bring up the idea of marriage.

Gregarious and helpful, Radwanski always held a smile, even when reporters were badgering him for information. We did that. Plenty of times. So we know.

And what a swan song the guy has set up. He's keeping his Saturday-night gig singing at La Casa Di Lucias, at Bustleton and Philmont avenues, in Somerton.


Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or email

brennac@phillynews.com.

Check out the Clout blog at:

www.phillyclout.com and follow on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN.

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