Tracey Gordon Defeats Longtime Incumbent Ron Donatucci for Register of Wills

Gordon, who has previously run for City Council, state representative, and city commissioner, ousted a politically well-connected opponent who has served in the position since 1980.

Tracey Gordon

After nearly 40 years, the office of the Register of Wills will have a new leader. On Tuesday night, community advocate Tracey Gordon made history as the first black woman nominated to the position.

At 11:30 p.m., with 97 percent of precincts reporting, Gordon had garnered 44 percent of the vote, while her challenger, long-serving incumbent Ron Donatucci, was at 40 percent. Donatucci was first elected to the office in 1979.

Gordon will not face a Republican opponent in November — none ran in the primary — and while she could still draw an independent challenger, her eventual general election victory looks like a safe bet.

“The register of wills is responsible for engaging property owners on the importance of probating a will as well as protecting our most vulnerable citizens when they are no longer able to manage their affairs,” Gordon previously told Philadelphia magazine in an interview. “As register of wills, I plan to decrease the alarming amount of ‘tangled titles’ and fraudulent estates in Philadelphia through outreach, because when people know better, they do better.”

As a former candidate for City Council, city commissioner, and state representative, Gordon had been considered a long shot to defeat Donatucci, who has seen his share of criticism in recent years. Gordon’s platform touched on multiple issues, from exploring the legality of waiving the $475 probate filing fee to reforming the assigning process for the court-appointed guardians via the Orphans’ Court.

“Most constituents are unaware that this office exists, and that speaks volumes to the lack of community integration from this office over the past 40 years,” Gordon said in her earlier interview.