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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney spoke at a Perry World House event in Nov. 2018.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney won re-election in a landslide Tuesday night, while the progressive Working Families Party made history as the first third party to secure a seat on the modern City Council. 

While Kenney's win was an expected triumph, the victory of WFP member Kendra Brooks in a City Council at-large seat was a milestone achievement that weakened Republican control in Philadelphia politics.

Democratic incumbent Mayor Kenney won in a landslide, defeating Republican challenger Billy Ciancaglini. As of late Wednesday, 94% of precincts were reporting and Kenney gained 80.2% of the vote, compared to Ciancaglini's 19.8%.

In Philadelphia's City Council system, five at-large seats are essentially reserved for the majority party — currently the Democrats — as each party can only put up a maximum of five candidates. This leaves two at-large seats left over for candidates in the minority party, seats which have traditionally been occupied by Republicans.

This year, the WFP, a progressive independent party, succeeded in breaking the GOP control of the minority seats. Brooks 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.

Brooks is the first third-party candidate to win a seat on the City Council in the century since the legislative body adopted its modern structure, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nicolas O'Rourke, another WFP candidate, remains locked in a close battle with incumbent Republican Councilman David Oh to secure the second at-large minority seat. As of early Wednesday, the race was too close to call, the Inquirer reported.

The success of the WFP is a blow to the city’s Democratic establishment, which opposed the insurgent candidates.

Elsewhere in the City Council, 1993 College graduate Helen Gym, a former Daily Pennsylvanian and 34th Street editor, and the four other Democratic, at-large incumbents easily won re-election to their seats.