North Central: Traffic Court Candidate Hopes to Help Working Class

Marnie Aument-Loughrey advertises her traffic court candidacy on Broad Street and Susquehanna Avenue.

A large sign on Broad Street and Susquehanna Avenue sits outside a building trying to catch the attention of the morning and evening rush hour traffic in North Central. It reads simply: “Traffic Court Candidate Democrat Marnie Aument-Loughrey.”

Marnie Aument-Loughrey advertises her traffic court candidacy on Broad Street and Susquehanna Avenue.

Aument-Loughrey, 45, a Kensington resident, is one of 12 candidates currently running for one seat available in Philadelphia Traffic Court.

“Traffic court is a place that, unfortunately, almost everyone or someone [everyone] knows winds up in front of,” Aument-Loughrey said. “And I feel like I can make a difference there.”

The evening traffic in North Central passes Aument-Loughrey’s sign everyday.

A single mother with two children in college, she has taken a platform that strongly favors those who work later hours and might not have the schedule flexibility to appear in court during the normal traffic court hours. If someone cannot appear, the court finds that person automatically guilty and fines follow. Failure to pay the fines can result in the suspension of a license. For the convenience of working-class adults, Aument-Loughrey wants to extend traffic court hours to 9 p.m. at least one night a week and she said she’s willing to work that particular shift if necessary.

“I will listen and I will try to help responsible people keep their driver’s licenses so that they won’t lose their jobs or their ability to take care of their families,” Aument-Loughrey said.

Her platform made it clear why she was advertising on a busy corner of North Central, a neighborhood where–according to the 2000 Census–just under 4 percent of residents have bachelor’s degrees. As a result, residents here oftentimes do not have the  job quality and better job flexibility associated with higher education levels. But Aument-Loughrey said working-class people shouldn’t have to suffer because of it.

Aument-Loughrey’s page on Facebook talks about her political background and goals as a candidate.

North Central residents like Confidence Nwalor, 21, a student with two minimum wage jobs, said she thinks Aument-Loughrey’s ideas are good ones. Nwalor has received several minor violations but her schedule doesn’t permit her to fight any of them in traffic court. So each new ticket hits her pockets hard and losing her license would be detrimental to both her jobs and her classes.

“I would if I could [fight the tickets],” Nwalor said. “The people around here, whether it’s the working students or the working single mothers, have better things to spend their money on. Especially tickets that aren’t [always given] under the fairest circumstances. These are hard times and people are just trying to survive.”

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