Philly May primary ballot challenge hearings begin Friday, challenge to Council President withdrawn

Pat Loeb
March 21, 2019 - 7:36 pm
Philadelphia City Hall

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — City Council President Darrell Clarke's opponent in the May primary appeared in Council Chambers Thursday, shouting and visibly upset after her challenge to Clarke's nominating papers was withdrawn.

"I'm challenging you because you're challenging me. Tit for tat. Hi," said Sheila Armstrong, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the 5th District council seat, during the public comment period. "You should have just left me alone." 

Clarke thanked her for her testimony. 

Armstrong had filed her challenge to Clarke electronically, five minutes before the deadline on Tuesday at 5 p.m., but failed to file in person. Attorney Sam Stretton said that left him with no choice but to withdraw the challenge. 

But Armstrong appeared in council with a judge's ruling to show cause for the withdrawal so there will be a hearing on it Friday along with some 46 other ballot challenges, including Clarke's challenge to Armstrong.

RELATED: City Council at-large candidate challenges nominating petitions of 30 opponents 

Thirty of the challenges were filed by a single candidate. 

Devon Cade said his "AI (artificial intelligence) analysis" of the petitions of 30 of his opponents for City Council at-large showed problems with the signatures.

Challenges have also been mounted against three city commissioner candidates, Register of Wills Ron Donatucci, 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla and several other district council candidates running against incumbents - all democrats.

One Republican council-at-large candidate found himself with a problem of a different nature.

William Heeney agreed to pay $750 to settle an ethics board complaint that he failed to disclose personal payments of more than $4,000 for his campaign kickoff at the FOP Lodge on Nov. 11. The settlement says he should have disclosed the payments in his January campaign finance report.