The seven Democratic candidates, Michael Untermeyer, Tariq El-Shabazz, Teresa Carr Deni, John O’Neil, Joe Khan, Lawrence Krasner, and Richard Negrin, sat on a panel with the lone Republican, Beth Grossman to discuss their platforms. Candidate Shabazz talked about law enforcement corruption in Philadelphia and said, “We have to begin to stand up, to face them, and to prosecute them, when appropriate. We also have to understand, on the flip side, we need our police officers, we need it for public safety and protection, so we have to begin to rebuild bridges.”
Candidates also expressed their opinions about the decriminalization of marijuana in Philadelphia. “We are talking about potentially saving 125 lives in Philadelphia if we were to have either a de facto or an actually legally authorized policy of not prosecuting ready access to marijuana and frankly I support legalization of recreational use of marijuana, medical marijuana,” Defense Attorney Lawrence Krasner said. All eight candidates, including Republican Beth Grossman, agreed with Mayor Michal Nutter’s decision to decriminalize marijuana.
Other topics discussed on the panel included mandatory state minimums, gun control, and the safety and protocol of abuse victims. The District Attorney candidates expect to have more debates before the May 16 primary election.
The primary election has been shadowed by the legal issues facing current Philadelphia’s District Attorney Seth Williams. He’s been indicted on 23 counts of corruption, including bribery, extortion, and fraud.
In the 50-page indictment, Philadelphia’s first African-American District Attorney is accused of accepting over $175,000 worth of gifts and cash in return for favors. Some of the gifts DA Williams allegedly received include a used Jaguar XK8 convertible, expensive furniture, plane tickets, and multiple vacations.