Hopefuls challenged, knocked off ballot

Posted: March 08, 2012

S ABRIYA BILAL, a bus driver for the school district, wants to improve the city's representation in Harrisburg but admits that she is still getting the hang of politics.

Commonwealth Senior Judge James Gardner Colins yesterday ordered her removed from the April 24 Democratic primary-election ballot for not having enough valid signatures on her nominating petitions.

Bilal, who had hoped to challenge state Rep. Dwight Evans in the 203rd Legislative District, was removed from the ballot last year for the same reason, when she tried to run against City Councilwoman Marian Tasco.

"You learn as you go along," Bilal said, after a court hearing. "I'm teaching myself."

Evans challenged candidate Lamont Thomas as well, arguing that he doesn't live in the district. Thomas testified that he moved into the district last March. Colins said that he would rule by tomorrow on whether Thomas would remain on the ballot.

State Rep. Maria Donatucci appeared to have gotten her two Democratic challengers removed from the ballot before two hearings yesterday. Candidate Norma McNeil stipulated that she had fewer than the 300 valid signatures needed to stay on the ballot for the 185th Legislative District, according to court records.

An attorney representing candidate Fareeda Mabry also stipulated to that, court records show. But Mabry showed up for her hearing yesterday, saying that she had not authorized her attorney to concede. A court order showed that she has been removed from the ballot. The door to the courtroom where her hearing was to be held was locked. Mabry left without being heard.

- Chris Brennan

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