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Attorney general candidate Solomon praises mayor, lambasts district attorney

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(The Center Square) – Local issues loom large in the attorney general race as candidate Jared Solomon praised Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker and lambasted Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and the dysfunction within the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office.

Pennsylvania voters will decide competitive primaries for attorney general. Five Democrats are running. The Republican race is two.

“I’m running to protect our fundamental rights and freedoms – that’s what’s at stake in this election,” said Solomon, the fourth-term state representative from Philadelphia. “Our values are on the ballot and we need someone that has the courage to take on these big fights and has the courage to win each and every time. I’m that candidate for attorney general.”

Solomon – the only candidate in District 202, a fallback of sorts should he not win the attorney general election – says his approach separates him from his Democratic challengers – career public defender Keir Bradford-Grey, former auditor general Eugene DePasquale, prosecutor Joe Khan, and prosecutor Jack Stollsteimer. He said he works with local officials and using task forces to deal with issues like gun violence, opioid addiction, and other top priorities.

The task forces would “bring in subject-matter experts to hone the legislative, law enforcement, DA tools we have and also urge legislative action on new tools,” Solomon said. “Opioid addiction, recovery, and treatment is a great one to use for a task-force model … it can really get to the root of an issue.”

He pointed to a task-force model used in Colorado to coordinate groups working on drug addiction to align efforts to get better results, as well as then-mayor Ed Rendell’s gun violence task force in the 1990s.

As Parker deals with quality of life issues in Philadelphia, Solomon had kind words for her approach around the city and with Kensington, a hotspot for drugs and violence in the city’s northeast.

“Parker understands quality of life issues,” Solomon said. “She understands that government is at its best when it’s dealing with the type of government that people feel and see – tangible improvement in communities like abandoned cars, potholes, business corridor development, getting at what can really inspire confidence in government.”

Voters are “thirsty for the government to deliver,” he said, and for politicians to deliver instead of “blathering and pivoting.”

“She understands that that’s what people are looking for, that’s her approach,” he said. “She’s results-driven, action-oriented, and I really think in the end it’s going to drive really positive results for our city and for our state.”

Parker has touted her commitment to public safety and declared Philadelphia will no longer be a tale of two cities. But her efforts to clean up crime and dangerous neighborhoods has led to intense pushback from activists and some experts, even as other Democratic-controlled cities shift in the same direction.

Solomon also pushes for more efforts like better lighting in neighborhoods, repairing homes, better trash collection, and security cameras as a way to reduce violence and improve neighborhoods, something that House Democrats have also talked up.

“We need not just to be doing that on a citywide basis – we need to be doing that in all of our 67 counties,” he said.

He’d also like a 67-county buildout of gun violence task forces.

“Enforcement, investment, protection: these will reduce crime,” Solomon said. “We just need a leader who’s done it – which I have – and will bring it to all of our counties.”

Though he praised Parker’s approach, he has larger differences with Krasner, the district attorney. Solomon has been critical of GOP-led efforts to impeach Krasner and appoint a special prosecutor to address crime on Philadelphia’s public transit system, but doesn’t hold much admiration for Krasner’s approach.

“For me, he gets an F for prosecuting, efficiently and effectively, gun violence,” he said. “An F for failing to work with others. An F for his unwillingness to prosecute retail theft.”

But Solomon gave him an A for not prosecuting low-level drug offenses and an A for “showing some mercy to folks who have been wrongly convicted.”

With Krasner and other district attorney offices, Solomon said he’d work collaboratively to build partnerships.

“I would seek to make sure to work with all our local DAs and be a resource,” he said. “There’s concurrent jurisdiction to deal with a lot of crimes … and the attorney general is able to work in concert to be a force multiplier in this regard. I would want to work with local DAs to make sure they have the resources they need to prosecute crimes.”

Not all local law enforcement, however, earned his support. The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office has for years faced allegations of wasteful spending and corruption, with its latest problems being profligate spending that may violate the city’s Home Rule Charter.

“It’s a disgrace,” Solomon said. “We don’t get to talk about larger issues until we get the DNA of our democracy right, and the DNA includes uplifting the public’s trust and demanding accountability.”