Movita Johnson-Harrell resigns; City election officials ask for delay in special election to replace her

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Movita Johnson-Harrell has stepped down as a state representative following her indictment last week on charges of stealing from a nonprofit she founded. 

She is expected to plead guilty, and there will be a special election to fill her seat. City election officials are asking that it be held at the same time as the April primary to save money and confusion.

City Commissioner Lisa Deeley said the amount of extra time the voters of Johnson-Harrell's district would be unrepresented in Harrisburg, if the state were to wait to hold the special election in April, would be insignificant.

"It would be so insignificant that really, the greater disservice to them would be to make them have to go vote within six weeks of another election," Deeley said.

Deeley made the request in a letter to House Speaker Mike Turzai, who has 10 days — under state law — to schedule the special election. 

Turzai's office said he will likely announce the date next week.

Deeley said a separate special election would place an undue burden on election workers, who expect an unprecedented level of new registrations and absentee ballots for the primary and are just learning new voting rules passed by the legislature, not to mention what it will cost taxpayers.

"It really can't be justified. The cost is unjustifiable with an election in April," she added.