Philly voters will likely face 4 ballot questions in May

Pat Loeb
March 04, 2019 - 5:22 pm
City Hall, Philadelphia.

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia voters will face a big ballot in May: dozens of City Council candidates, along with races for mayor and row offices, and, very likely, four charter change questions.

A City Council committee advanced two of the charter change questions on Monday. 

One question now headed to the full council for approval to go on the ballot would create a new class of employees called public safety enforcement officers (PSEO). Council President Darrell Clarke says they'd do things such as direct traffic, but they wouldn't be able to carry a gun or make arrests.

RELATED: City Council approves two charter change questions for May primary​

"By moving toward this supplemental force, we think that we can free up additional police officers to deal with the criminal issues relating to our city,"  he said. 

Most witnesses were in favor of the concept. Councilman David Oh was the lone vote against it. 

"We don't know what their powers are, what their qualifications are," he said. 

RELATED: City Council committee gives green light for controversial gas plant in Southwest Philly

Others also had a lot of questions about how it would work. Jeff Hornstein of the Economy League wondered how it would be funded.

"How many PSEOs does council envision deploying? Is there a new revenue stream being proposed to offset the costs?" he said.  

The second question the committee approved would ask voters to change the charter to call on state lawmakers to raise the statewide minimum wage. Gov. Tom Wolf has made that request directly to the legislature for four years and not gotten an increase.

In February, Council voted to include two other questions. Voters will be asked to eliminate gender-specific language from the city charter, and voters will be asked to make the Office of Immigrant Affairs a permanent part of city government.