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She Wants to Be 'The People’s Sheriff' in Philadelphia


A well-known Philadelphia poor peoples advocate has decided to try something different. She’s running for Sheriff of Philadelphia.

Cheri Honkala, founder of the local Kensington Welfare Rights Union and national director of the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign, announced on Thursday, February 17, she will be running in the November election as the Green Party candidate for Sheriff in the City Of Philadelphia.

“I’m running for Sheriff because something needs to be done to address the plague of home evictions being faced by poor and working families in Philadelphia,” Honkala said. The theme of the Honkala campaign is: “Keeping Families In Their Homes.”

Since evictions and Sheriff's sale auctions of foreclosed properties are a core task undertaken by the Office Of Sheriff, Honkala’s entrée adds a provocative dimension to an already interesting race.

Cheri Honkala announces she's running for Sheriff of PhiladelphiaCheri Honkala announces she's running for Sheriff of Philadelphia

As “The People’s Sheriff,” Honkala says she will fulfill all the traditional functions of the office that includes transport of inmates to and from city prisons and courthouses, as well as courthouse security. “We will green the transporting of prisoners,” she said, which includes preserving both public safety and the dignity of Philadelphia inmates.

Currently, the Sheriff’s office is facing subpoenas from a US Attorney in a federal grand jury probe addressing things like $53 million missing from the Real Estate Department, the department Honkala has her sights set on. The problems came to light after an audit by City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

When Sheriff John Green, who held the elected office for 22 years, was asked about the absence of records covering his staff’s vacation days, he reportedly said he didn’t need records, since Sheriff’s Office workers worked 24/7. Presumably they were working even if they were at one of the new casinos in the city.

Green retired December 31 and the office is now being run by his chief deputy, Barbara Deeley, who is not running for the job.

The office recently hired Joseph Vignola, a well known Philadelphia politico who, of late, has made a niche for himself troubleshooting for cities such as Pittsburgh in fiscal straits. According to the The Philadelphia Inquirer, he was hired “to help resolve concerns” raised by the Butkowitz’s audit, which sounds a bit like the Harvey Keitel character in Pulp Fiction, an ace “cleaner” who comes in to mop up after a bloody shooting.

Currently, there are four people running for Sheriff in the May Democratic primary. Jewel Williams is an ex-cop and the Democratic Party-endorsed candidate. Running against him is John Kromer, who was the city’s housing chief under former Mayor Ed Rendell; Kromer currently teaches urban housing issues at the University Of Pennsylvania.


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