All 3 Ballot Questions Pass Easily in Philadelphia

The three ballot questions in yesterday's election in Philadelphia all passed with more than 64 percent of the vote. Here's what's next.

When Philadelphia voters headed to the polls yesterday, they also had choices on three ballot questions. Noncontroversial ballot questions tend to pass easily, and that’s what happened here: The two changes to the city charter and a bond borrowing question passed with between 64 and 67 percent of the vote.

At posting, just under 98 percent of city precincts had been counted.

Ballot Question 1, which called for a permanent office of sustainability in the city, passed with 66 percent of the vote. The Inquirer, notably, came out against Question 1, arguing that “administrations should be able to manage the office without any further complication of the charter.” PlanPhilly’s Ashley Hahn argued instead the office of sustainability was a lean outfit that brought tangible results to the city, and making it permanent would be a boon. Now we get to see if she’s right.

Ballot Question 2, which passed with 64 percent of the vote, essentially formalized what has already been true for the past 26 years: The Department of Prisons operates independently. Officially, it has been part of the Department of Human Services, the city’s welfare department. Once the vote is certified, the city will have a new Department of Prisons and Board of Trustees.

Fortunately, this won’t cost the city anything. It is essentially just a formality. The Commissioner of Prisons will soon be recognized on the same level as the fire and police commissioners, though it’s doubtful we’ll see the prisons commissioner on TV as often. The move also makes Mayor Michael Nutter’s prisoner re-entry program permanent.

No word why this passed with a slightly lower number than the other two ballot questions. Perhaps people saw the words “prison” and just decided to vote no.

Ballot Question 3 is a simple borrowing issue that is voted on pretty much every election. It passed with 66 percent of the vote, and allows the city to borrow $137,295,000 to fund projects involving transit, streets and sanitation, municipal buildings, parks, recreation and museums and economic and community development. The mayor’s office sent us over a more specific list of projects earlier this week. Enjoy the repurposed Army facility in the Far Northeast, police officers! The citizens voted for the city to finish it.