Voters Seek Fresh Blood in At-Large Council Race

Two incumbents defeated, but leading vote-getters are hardly insurgents.

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.

Among the losers? Wilson Goode Jr., the longtime council member and son of the city’s first black mayor. Ed Neilson, an incumbent selected by the party to fill an unexpired term, facing his first election. And Frank Rizzo Jr., a former council member seeking a return to City Hall — and himself the son of Philadelphia’s most legendary modern politician. (You have to go back to the early 1990s to find the last time that Rizzo, Goode, and their fathers were all absent from elected positions at City Hall.)

On the Republican side, there was a bit more order: Incumbents David Oh and Dennis O’Brien captured the top two of the five open slots on the GOP ballot, followed by Terry Tracy, Daniel Tinney, and perennial candidate Al Taubenberger. Candidates Matt Wolfe and James Williams were defeated.

This is one of the few Philadelphia primary races where the November general election will have real meaning. There are seven at-large council seats up for grabs, but no more than five of those seats can be held by the political party with the largest number of registered voters in the city. In practice, that means Republicans — by far the minority party in Philadelphia — are guaranteed two seats after November.

The general election — which whittles those 10 finalists down to seven council members — is Nov. 3.