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Philadelphia Voters To Decide On Important Ballot Questions In Tuesday’s Primary

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  Philadelphia voters are facing some major ballot questions in tomorrow’s primary, including one that affects future city elections.

The most controversial of the questions being put to city voters involves changing the charter’s “resign to run” provision.

Right now local elected officials have to step down before seeking a different office.

If the change is approved, they would not have to resign until elected to the new post, though they could only seek one office at a time; no running for Mayor and for re-election to Council at the same time.

The sponsor, Republican at-large Councilman David Oh, says the current rule hurts the city because it exists nowhere else in the Commonwealth:

“That limitation only applies to Philadelphia city elected officials. None of the other 2,500 cities and towns in Pennsylvania have this restriction. As a result, they have their full team of local, state and federal officials advocating for them.”

Another question on the ballot involves the mayor’s effort to choose a law firm to exclusively handle criminal cases that the Public Defender’s Office cannot touch because of conflicts of representation.

The Administration plans to award a one-year contract.

Some council members believe that duration was chosen because one-year deals do not require Council approval.

This ballot referendum asks voters to allow Council to oversee one-year deals, but only for contracts on this particular matter.

The sponsor, Republican at-large councilman Denny O’Brien, says it does not necessarily stop the deal from going forward:

“This charter amendment will not prohibit the administration from entering into a contract. It will just require a public forum, to be able to review the contract and get answers before any contract is signed.”

The Nutter Administration says that hiring a single firm for conflict counsel will mean more extensive help for defendants.

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