Voters Seek Fresh Blood in At-Large Council Race

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The theme of Tuesday night’s At-Large City Council primary election? Voters are ready for fresh blood — but perhaps not full-fledged insurgents.

On the Democratic side, two incumbents — and one sort-of incumbent — lost. Two incumbents survived, though only in the middle-of the pack. But the two of the three leading vote-getters were Derek Green, a former aide to Councilwoman Marian Tasco, and condo king Allan Domb, who has been at home in the city’s establishment for years and was aided by half-million dollars of his own money. Hardly rebels, even if Domb wanted to portray the result as an upset.

The winners? Green and Domb; incumbent Council Members Blondell Reynolds Brown and Bill Greenlee; with well-known education activist Helen Gym appearing — with just a few precincts left to count — to capture the fifth and final spot. Read more »

The Brief: This Is The Only Philly Voter’s Guide You’ll Need Today

Photo by Matt Rourke

Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Dear God, it’s here. Today is Election Day.

The stakes are high: This is Philadelphia’s first competitive mayoral primary in eight years. Plus, candidates for City Council, City Commissioner, Sheriff, Register of Wills and judge are on the ballot.

But maybe you don’t know where your polling place is located. Or you’ve never heard of any of the Council candidates before. Or you’re still undecided in the mayor’s race, and you want to read a few endorsements in hopes of something — anything — moving you.

It’s cool. We got you. Here is absolutely everything you’ll need to know to survive the 2015 Philadelphia primary election:

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The Challengers: Sherrie Cohen Would Be a Bulldog for City Services

Sherrie Cohen | Photo by

Sherrie Cohen | Photo by Colleen Stepanian

All week, Citified is featuring Q&As with leading at-large City Council Democratic challengers on topics of their choosing. The prompt was simple: if elected, what’s a problem you would you prioritize, and how would you address it? To keep the conversation substantive and on-point, we asked the candidates to focus on a relatively narrow question (i.e., not “schools,” or “crime.”)

Four years ago, Sherrie Cohen made a run for City Council At-Large in the primary election and lost by only 1,755 votes. Tuesday, she’ll seek the same office, but with seemingly even more momentum. Everyone from former Gov. Ed Rendell to the urbanist PAC 5th Square to the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund has lined up behind her. She is also the only challenger in the race to score an endorsement from the city’s Democratic Party.

If elected, Cohen says she would be a bulldog for city services. For Citified’s Q&A, she chose to talk about two services especially close to her heart: libraries and pools.
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The Challengers: Tom Wyatt Says He’ll Bring Jobs Back to Philly

Tom Wyatt | Photo via Wyatt's campaign

Tom Wyatt | Photo via Wyatt’s campaign

All week, Citified is featuring Q&As with leading at-large City Council Democratic challengers on topics of their choosing. The prompt was simple: if elected, what’s a problem you would you prioritize, and how would you address it? To keep the conversation substantive and on-point, we asked the candidates to focus on a relatively narrow question (i.e., not “schools,” or “crime.”)

Tom Wyatt’s got multitudes. He’s a big-time lawyer who once lived in a trailer park and worked at Burger King. He’s the chairman of the education committee for the Passyunk Square Civic Association, and he nearly flunked out of high school.

If elected to City Council, he says his agenda would be similarly well-rounded. He wants to create jobs in Philadelphia as well as improve the school system, in part by overhauling the city’s business taxes. He chose to talk about the latter with Citified.
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The No-Bullshit City Council At-Large Election Guide

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

It’s totally OK if you haven’t been paying attention to Philadelphia’s Democratic City Council At-Large race. The contest hasn’t grabbed a lot of headlines, with the mayoral race sucking up so much oxygen. But it’s a doozy, and the race is critically important. Council members have grabbed so much power in recent years that they’re sometimes more influential than the mayor. Read more »

City Council Votes to Make Permanent the Office of LGBT Affairs

helen fitzpatrick

Director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs Helen FItzpatrick at this week’s IBA LGBT Business Leaders Luncheon. | Photo courtesy of JPG Photography

This afternoon, Philadelphia City Council passed a bill to make permanent the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, which is currently headed by Director Helen Fitzpatrick.

But the move isn’t completely official yet. In order to pass, the bill requires a change to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, which must be signed by the  Mayor and voted on by the public in the November general election. The ballot measure will read:

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The Challengers: Paul Steinke Wants to Transform Philly’s Commercial Corridors

Paul Steinke (on R) | Photo via Steinke's Facebook

Paul Steinke (on R) | Photo via Steinke’s Facebook

All week, Citified will be featuring Q&As with leading at-large City Council Democratic challengers on topics of their choosing. The prompt was simple: if elected, what’s a problem you would you prioritize, and how would you address it? To keep the conversation substantive and on-point, we asked the candidates to focus on a relatively narrow question (i.e., not “schools,” or “crime.”)

Paul Steinke shook up Philadelphia long before ever trying to get keys to an office in City Hall.

He was the Reading Terminal Market czar for 13 years. Before that, he was the finance director of the Center City District and the first executive director of the University City District. These are some of the most respected, even beloved organizations in the city.

Today, Steinke is trying out for the job of Democratic City Council At-Large. He told Citified he wanted to talk about Philly’s commercial corridors. Our questions have been paraphrased and Steinke’s answers have been edited lightly for clarity.

Read more »

The Challengers: Derek Green Wants to Improve Education For Kids With Special Needs

Derek Green | Photo by Thomas Amico

Derek Green | Photo by Thomas Amico

All week, Citified will be featuring Q&As with leading at-large City Council Democratic challengers on topics of their choosing. The prompt was simple: if elected, what’s a problem you would you prioritize, and how would you address it? To keep the conversation substantive and on-point, we asked the candidates to focus on a relatively narrow question (i.e., not “schools,” or “crime.”)

Derek Green was a top aide to Philadelphia City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, an assistant district attorney, a deputy city solicitor, and a small business lender.

That’s a solid resume for a candidate for Democratic City Council At-Large.

But the No. 1 thing going for Green in this race, perhaps, is the fact that he scored the top position on the May 19th primary ballot in a lottery administered by election officials. That means his name will appear first among the City Council At-Large contenders, which is paramount because candidates at the top of the ballot are thought to do better than those at the bottom in races where voters aren’t paying close attention.

Green told Citified he wanted to talk about the education of children with special needs. Citified’s questions have been paraphrased and Green’s answers have been edited lightly for clarity.

Read more »

Is It Time for a “Yes Means Yes” Standard at Philly Colleges?

In this Wednesday, March 2, 2011 file photo, students at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. march across the campus demanding the school deal more harshly with students who commit sexual offenses.  (AP Photo/The Sentinel, Jason Malmont)

In this Wednesday, March 2, 2011, file photo, students at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. march across the campus demanding the school deal more harshly with students who commit sexual offenses. (AP Photo/The Sentinel, Jason Malmont)

A City Council committee will hear testimony this afternoon about how Philadelphia colleges and universities handle and investigate sexual assault complaints — and contemplate whether a “yes means yes” standard should be required for college students who have sex.

“There needs to be an honest, frank dialogue about how we ‘un-stack’ the deck against victims of sexual assault,” Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said in a written statement ahead of Friday’s hearing. “One in five women on college campuses will be the victim of sexual assault. More and more brave victims are coming forward, only to find out that their school does not have their back, or wants to sweep it under the rug.”  Read more »

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