Election Day in Philadelphia | Photo by AP/Matt Rourke
If you want to shake up City Council, many political insiders will tell you to vote for one at-large candidate and one at-large candidate only. This tactic is known as “bullet voting,” and the idea behind it is that by voting for just one candidate, you don’t run the risk of elevating another candidate who could beat your No. 1 choice.
Until now, we didn’t know very much about the prevalence of bullet voting, or how effective it is, in Philadelphia. That changed when City Commissioner Al Schmidt on Tuesday released a study about bullet voting in the primary election. “This was a massive undertaking,” he said in a press release, “and has never been done before.”
Here are seven takeaways from his analysis: Read more »
Photo by Jeff Fusco
(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from City Council candidate Helen Gym.)
“As long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance.”
Those were the infamous words of Citigroup Chief Executive Charles Prince, explaining why, amid the collapse of the world markets, his institution would keep on making risky subprime loans right up to the last minute.
They are words that toll with heavy familiarity as the School District of Philadelphia stubbornly pursues reckless charter school expansion while our public schools crumble.
Last week, Superintendent William Hite announced a sweeping plan for the school district that includes closing two public schools and converting three other city schools into charters.
Never mind that just a few weeks ago Hite declared for a second time that charters in Philadelphia had reached a “saturation point.” Never mind that money that is never available to restore basic services like nurses and counselors — or to end class sizes of 70 students per teacher — can somehow be found to expand charters year after year. And never mind that the charter system itself is rapidly coming apart, with mid-year closures, bankruptcies and bad financing deals rocking an already uneven academic performance landscape.
Read more »
Photo courtesy of City Council’s Flickr
It’s been a bad year for politicians in Pennsylvania, especially those with a “D” next to their names: Kathleen Kane, Chaka Fattah, Rob McCord. The list goes on and on.
On Monday, Republican Councilman David Oh reminded the public that lawbreaking isn’t exclusively a Democratic affair. In a settlement agreement with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, Oh admitted to taking an illegal campaign donation in the 2015 primary election and agreed to pay a $2,000 fine for his violation.
And with that, the City Council At-Large race this November got a lot more interesting.
Read more »
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan | Photo by Matt Rourke
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has been hit with a $1,500 fine for making an excess campaign donation to education firebrand and Democratic City Council candidate Helen Gym. Read more »
Photo by Matt Rourke/AP
1. Voter turnout in Philadelphia wasn’t always so pitiful.
The gist: Only 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in Philadelphia’s mayoral primary last week. It wasn’t always like this. In 1991, 49 percent of Philly voters came to the polls. In 1987, 67 percent did; in 1971, a stunning 77 percent did. Other big cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York have also seen voter turnout plummet in municipal elections over the past few decades. CityLab’s Daniel Denvir has a theory about why that may be: Read more »
Photos by Malcolm Burnley and Holly Otterbein
(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.)
1. Bullet Balloting Works. Last week I argued that folks should vote only for one or two At-large Council challengers and withhold their votes from the rest: incumbents, and challengers they weren’t truly passionate about. Read more »
Helen Gym | Photo by Alex Hogan
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.”)
Longtime schools activist Helen Gym is running an at-large campaign powered by an enthusiastic grassroots network of supporters, the backing of teacher unions and her own indomitable personality. Her presence on Council would surely shakeup a a legislative body that is, plainly, sick and tired of talking about the city’s struggling schools and the questions of how to fund them.
Gym would make schools her central focus if she is elected to Council. In particular, Gym wants to dramatically change Council’s approach to schools oversight, and that’s the subject she chose to discuss with Citified. Read more »
City Council candidate Helen Gym | Photo by Alex Hogan
[Update, 6:08 p.m.]: The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers PAC and the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania PAC both employ the same treasurer, Jack Steinberg, according to the Department of State’s website.
[Original, 2:39 p.m.]: Philadelphia’s campaign finance law is as strict as a nun: City candidates can accept no more than $11,500 annually from an individual political action committee.
Philly even has a rule on the books to prevent donors from evading the limit by making what is known as a “pass-through” contribution. PACs are barred from writing a maxed-out check to a candidate, then writing another check to a separate PAC, and asking that PAC to donate the funds to the same candidate.
Did City Council At-Large candidate Helen Gym just trip up on that rule? Read more »
Sherrie Cohen | Photo via Cohen’s Facebook
Bob Brady, chairman of Philadelphia’s Democratic City Committee, says City Council At-Large candidate Sherrie Cohen is expected to win the party’s endorsement.
Cohen tells us the policy arm of the city committee recommended her for an endorsement Saturday. She expects the full party to ratify the decision next month.
That could be a deciding factor in the City Council At-Large race (which, in all seriousness, is more interesting than the mayor’s race some days).
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Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page
A candidate has the opportunity to flex some muscle while collecting signatures for nominating petitions.
You only need to gather 1,000 legit signatures to get on the May 19th primary ballot for citywide office — but if a candidate amasses significantly more than that, they can theoretically inoculate themselves from a legal challenge and show the city that they’ve got a good ground operation. (Again, at least in theory. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady led the pack in signatures among mayoral candidates during the 2007 campaign, only to lose in the primary.)
March 17th is the deadline to file a legal challenge against a candidate over their nominating petitions. We told you how many signatures the mayoral hopefuls collected. What about the candidates in the second-most interesting race in town, the Democratic City Council At-Large tussle?
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