Whether you’re a Philadelphia native or new to the city, here are the figures to know in local and statewide politics:
Mayor Jim Kenney
A former instructor at the Fels Institute of Government, Kenney assumed office on January 4, 2016.
He is a member of the Democratic Party, as are well over 75 percent of registered voters in Philadelphia, and previously held an at-large City Council seat for 23 years before launching his campaign for mayor in 2015.
He won the Democratic primary on May 19, 2015 with 55.83 percent of the vote by building a diverse coalition of supporters across the city. In November 2015, he went on to defeat Republican candidate Melissa Murray Bailey with 85.1 percent of the vote.
Philadelphia City Council
The City Council is the legislative arm of Philadelphia’s government composed of 17 members, 10 of which are elected by district and the remaining seven elected at-large. It is currently presided over by Democrat Darrell L. Clarke, who has held a seat in Council since 1999.
The Council is currently composed of 14 Democrats and three Republicans. Council members are elected every four years, with no limit on the number of years that may be served.
What Mayor Kenney and the City Council are Working On
On March 3, during a budget address, Kenney proposed a three cents per ounce soda tax, which would only apply to sugary drinks and exclude diet drinks. The tax, currently being considered in the City Council and possibly going to a vote in early June, has sparked controversy nationwide.
Critics have argued for its potential detrimental effects on the poorer populations of the city, while advocates have pointed out the need for the tax’s additional revenue to fund pre-K education in the city. Such a tax has previously failed to pass twice in Philadelphia and the only one of its kind in the country was passed in Berkeley, Calif.
Race for the 2nd Congressional District
Penn’s campus forms part of Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District, which has been occupied by a Democrat since 1949. 1986 Fels graduate Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) has been the incumbent for the past 22 years, but failed to secure the Democratic nomination after losing in the party primary race on April 26.
On July 29, 2015, Fattah received a 29-count indictment for bribery, corruption and racketeering. His ongoing trial opened the field for fellow Democrats to challenge him in the most recent primary, where state Rep. Dwight Evans won with 42.20 percent of the vote. Evans, who is expected to assume the seat after November’s general election, will face Republican James Jones.
Gov. Tom Wolf
Wolf, a member of the Democratic party, has served since January 2015 after ousting incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in the 2014 gubernatorial election with 54.93 percent of the vote.
As governor, Wolf has often clashed with the Republican controlled state General Assembly. Most recently, the governor and state legislators incurred a budget impasse that lasted about nine months, the longest in the state’s history.
Wolf reluctantly accepted the Assembly’s proposed budget in March to avoid the defunding of schools across the state. In early April, the governor and state legislature began working on the 2016-17 budget for the year that begins on July 1.
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