By Leah Fletcher
On May 16, Philadelphia’s Democratic and Republican voters, will choose their nominees for Pennsylvania’s statewide courts, with competitive races for the Superior and Supreme Courts; and their nominees for Philadelphia’s Municipal Court and Court of Common Pleas.
For voters, judicial primary races tend to be less pronounced. Historically, turnout in the primary elections in odd numbered years, when municipal and judicial candidates run, approaches nearly 20 percent, according to Marvetta Coleman, of Women Connected, an emerging coalition of multiple women’s organizations from around the Delaware Valley.
With the 2017 primary election for judicial candidates only days away, the organization held a political power and networking event with judicial candidates entitled “Who’ll be the judge? You be the Judge”, which provided nearly 20 of the 30 candidates the opportunity to share their platforms with over 300 attendees last Thursday night at Center in the Park, in the city’s Germantown section.
There are two things that Women Connected are abundantly clear about as voters head to the polls. First, voters need information about the judicial candidates and they need to make informed decisions. Second, the voters must be mindful that the judiciary is there to protect citizens and the decisions they make to have a profound impact.
“What is important to me are the pressing judicial issues facing my community,” said city resident Mary May, a practicing therapeutic counselor.
Some attendees, like Erica Washington, had more targeted concerns for the candidates like mass incarceration, age sentencing limits and bail reform. “The information is important because of the community constituent groups my organization assists,” said Washington, who is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Omega Omega Chapter.
While the judicial races that appear on the May 16 primary ballot have been less prominent than the D.A. and Controller races, Coleman said the judicial election is extremely important on the ballot because judges “make decisions on issues that impact each and every one of us daily.”
“Women Connected hopes the event touches citizens and encourages them to come out and participate in the process by voting.” said Coleman.