On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Philadelphia residents will head to the polls to vote in the city's local election.
Along with City Council races, Philadelphia residents will elect a mayor, sheriff, city commissioner, and will vote in several judicial races and on three ballot questions about Philadelphia and Pennsylvania policies. The city will also be debuting new touch-screen voting machines, replacing machines which have been used since the 1990s, BillyPenn reported.
At-Large City Council:
Seven at-large City Council members will soon be elected. Five of these seats have historically been won by Democrats, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, but the remaining two are set aside for a minority party by the city’s charter.
This year, several progressive third-party candidates are challenging Republican incumbents in these two seats, hoping to shift the Council dramatically to the left.
Endorsed by the Working Families Party, Kendra Brooks has raised more money than any third-party candidate in the Council’s history, after her surging campaign for the minority seat garnered national media attention. Brooks is a Nicetown resident and community organizer who advocates for affordable housing for all, backs a Philadelphia Green New Deal, and supports quality public schools.
Tenant rights attorney Sherrie Cohen has been a lifelong LGBTQ advocate and aims to promote a $15 minimum wage, access to affordable housing, and a Green New Deal in Philadelphia.
Nicolas O’Rourke is a pastor and community activist from Philadelphia running on the WFP ticket with Brooks. O'Rourke is campaigning for affordable housing protections and for an end to mass incarceration. He also hopes to end “stop and frisk” policing in Philadelphia and to increase funding for the Police Advisory Commission, which aims to improve the relationship between police and the Philadelphia community.
Philadelphia Democratic Party leaders are attempting to slow considerable Democratic support for Brooks and O’Rourke. Chair of the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee Bob Brady recently pledged the party will act on the members who endorse WFP candidates after the election, the Inquirer reported.
Among those expected to be impacted by their endorsements of third-party candidates is City Councilmember Helen Gym, who is a committee member and at-large candidate up for City Council re-election.
The first Councilmember to endorse Brooks, Gym — who graduated with a master's degree from the Graduate School of Education in 1996 — is a community organizer, journalist, and former teacher, as well as the first Asian American woman to serve on the Council. Her campaign centers on increasing the quality of public schools, treating housing as a human right, and supporting the Philadelphia Green New Deal, according to her campaign website.
The two Republican incumbents in City Council are David Oh and Al Taubenberger.
Oh was the first Asian American elected to political office in Philadelphia. He has worked on increasing opportunity for small businesses, and, as a veteran himself, is an advocate for veteran benefits, according to his website. Taubenberger, first elected in 2016, was the former president of the Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. On Taubenberger's agenda is lowering the city wage tax, increasing funding for local public schools, and ensuring protections for senior citizens.
District City Council:
Democrat Jamie Gauthier is running unopposed in West Philadelphia’s District 3, which encompasses all of Penn's campus. In an upset in May, Gauthier defeated Councilmember Jannie Blackwell, who had been a longtime member of the Council.
Gauthier, who received her M.A. in City and Regional Planning from Penn in 2004, is the former executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, which supports the Philadelphia park system. Gauthier has a background in sustainability, affordable housing, and economic development projects, and founded an organization to help single mothers raise children while they attend college, according to the Weitzman School of Design website. Her platform includes combating gentrification in Philadelphia and supporting local businesses.
Incumbent Mayor Jim Kenney, who won by a landslide in the Democratic primary, is unlikely to be defeated by his Republican challenger, as no incumbent has lost reelection to a second term since 1984.
Kenney has declined debate requests from his opponent, Republican criminal defense attorney Billy Ciancaglini. Kenney advocates for the soda tax, supports opening overdose prevention sites in the city, and defends Philadelphia’s sanctuary city status.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. across the city. Find your polling place here.