Your No-B.S. Guide to Philly’s 2019 General Election
The election is less than a week away. Study up.
At the polls on Tuesday, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for mayor, City Council seats, city commissioner and more.
Mayor Jim Kenney is up for reelection, facing off against Republican Billy Ciancaglini. Perhaps the biggest question of the race, though, is whether the city will elect a third-party City Council candidate for the first time ever. Two of seven City Council at-large seats are reserved for minority party members; in the past, they’ve always gone to Republicans. Kendra Brooks and her running-mate, Nicolas O’Rourke, both of the Working Families Party, are among those hoping to change history. Brooks has raised more money than any third-party candidate in Philly ever — and earned an endorsement from Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren.
Other races on the ballot include: City Council district seats, register of wills, sheriff, Superior Court judge, judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and Municipal Court judge.
Here’s our no-B.S. guide to the election, organized by elective office. All endorsements listed are according to the candidate. First up? The big one: mayor.
- City Council (At-Large)
- City Council (District)
- City Commissioner
- Register of Wills
- Judicial Elections
- The Ballot Questions
Jim Kenney (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: You know the guy. He served as an at-large City Council member for 23 years prior to running for mayor in 2015.
The case for Kenney: Chief among Kenney’s major accomplishments is passing the sweetened beverage tax. The levy, which faced an uphill battle against skeptics and the American Beverage Association, showed the mayor’s ability to rally City Council behind bold ideas. The programs the tax funds (universal pre-K and community schools, as well as recreation centers and parks) also display Kenney’s top priority as mayor: education. And when it comes to that, Kenney boasts another win: bringing control of the city’s school district back home, out of the hands of lawmakers in Harrisburg (who, in his and many educators’ eyes, weren’t doing enough to prioritize our schools). In addition, Kenney’s administration has garnered a national reputation for standing up to ICE — and supporting undocumented immigrants — during troubling times. And finally, the mayor’s administration has also worked closely with urbanists and bicycling advocates to advance the progressive goals of Vision Zero and make Philly’s streets safer. He’s also been mayor for four years now, and one could see that experience as advantageous.
The case against Kenney: Most notable, perhaps, is the city’s climbing homicide rate — largely seen as unacceptable to Philadelphians who identified crime as the top issue in this year’s election, per an Inquirer poll. And while the soda tax can be seen as a big win for Kenney — and many residents support the programs the levy funds — a lot of residents oppose it. Kenney’s administration has made moves to counter the opioid crisis (including shutting down encampments and ramping up outreach programs), but his critics say he’s still not doing enough. His administration’s plan to allow a safe injection site in the city is championed by some and opposed by others, including those who worry that federal opposition renders the plan unrealistic.
Billy Ciancaglini (Republican)
The basics: Republican. Born and raised in South Philly. Earned his bachelor’s degree from La Salle and a J.D. from Temple University. Worked as a criminal defense attorney for the last 15 years, after getting his start in the legal world under Philly mob lawyer Joe Santaguida. Abandoned brief runs for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 2015 and for State Representative of the 184th District in 2018.
The case for Ciancaglini: He’s a lifelong Philadelphian with a strong love for the city. He’s also political outsider (which could also be a con, depending how you look at it). If you’re fed up with Kenney, Ciancaglini opposes the mayor on key issues: He wants to end the city’s “sanctuary city” status (Kenney strongly supports welcoming immigrants), stop safe injection sites (the Kenney administration has expressed support for a nonprofit looking to open one in Kensington), and eliminate the soda tax. He’d be the first Republican mayor since 1952.
The case against Ciancaglini: He’s a political outsider with virtually no experience. If you support Kenney’s stances on immigration, safe injection sites, the soda tax and more (and lean left), he’s probably not the candidate for you. (He recently told former Philly.com columnist Stu Bykofsky that he plans to vote for Trump in 2020.) His chances are also rather slim, considering Democrats outnumber Republicans seven to one in Philadelphia.
City Council (At-Large)
Helen Gym (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: In 2015, Gym became the first Asian American woman to serve on City Council. Since then (and long before, too, as a public school advocate), she’s championed education, housing, and wage reforms, among other progressive causes.
Priorities: Reforming the 10-year property tax abatement. Championing an equitable housing agenda. Keeping the soda tax. Supporting safe injection sites.
Endorsements: American Federation of Teachers; Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; AFT Local 2026: Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia; AFSCME District Council 47; AFSCME District Council 33; AFSCME 1199c; Building Trades Council; Communication Workers of America Local 13000; Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals; Philadelphia Chapter of AFL-CIO; Plumbers Union Local 690; SEIU 32BJ; SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania; Teamsters-Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division; Teamsters Local 115; Temple Association of University Professionals; Unite HERE; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776; Philadelphia Democratic City Committee; 215 People’s Alliance; 5th Square; Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration; Conservation Voters of PA; Liberty City Democratic Club; Neighborhood Networks; Reclaim Philadelphia; RePoint PAC; PA Sierra Club; Sunrise Movement Philadelphia; AAA Fund; Ascend PAC; Democracy for America; EMILY’s List; Our Revolution; Working Families Party
Allan Domb (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: Domb owns the eponymous real estate brokerage firm Allan Domb Real Estate, which has sparked criticism from some activists who say his ties to the real estate market raise a conflict of interest. He’s previously served as president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors. He’s known for donating his entire City Council salary to Philly schools. In his first term, he pushed for enacting City Council term limits, collecting delinquent property taxes, ending the DROP program for new non-union employees, and more.
Priorities: Auditing the city’s payroll software.
Endorsements: Gov. Tom Wolf; Gov. Ed Rendell; Congressman Dwight Evans; Congressman Brendan Boyle; Mayor John Street; Sen. Vincent Hughes; Sen. Larry Farnese; Sen. John Sabatina; Sen. Sharif Street; Sen. Christine Tartaglione; State Rep. Jared Solomon; State Rep. Joanna McClinton; State. Rep. Danilo Burgos; State Rep. Movita Johnson Harrell; State Rep. Michael Driscoll; State Rep. Ed Neilson; State Rep. Jason Dawkins; State Rep. Stephen Kinsey; Philadelphia Democratic City Committee; Philadelphia 3.0; Philly Set Go; Laborers District Council; Insulators Local 14; Steamfitters; TWU Local 234; Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees; UFCW Local 1776; Gas Workers Employees Union Local 686; Firefighters Union; Fraternal Order of Police; Philadelphia Inquirer; The Daily Pennsylvanian
Isaiah Thomas (Democrat)
The basics: Thomas grew up in Northwest Philly. He’s served the community as an athletic director and basketball coach, as well as assisted the Mayor’s Commission for African-American Men and worked as a staffer under former city controller Alan Butkovitz. This is his third time running for City Council.
Priorities: Improving education. Reducing gun violence. Improving job access.
Endorsements: 32BJ SEIU; AFSCME 1199c; Philadelphia Chapter of AFL-CIO; Working Families Party; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Temple Association of University Professionals; Reclaim Philadelphia; Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Communication Workers of America Local 13000
Derek Green (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: Former small business owner, deputy city solicitor and assistant district attorney. In his first term, he worked to clear hurdles for small businesses, establish medical marijuana facilities in Philly, and address racism in the Gayborhood.
Priorities: Creating jobs. Reducing poverty. Improving education.
Endorsements: Mayor Jim Kenney; Congressperson Dwight Evans; Council President Darrell Clarke; Philadelphia AFL-CIO; Philadelphia Tribune; Democratic City Committee; Neighborhood Networks; Laborers District Council; Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Firefighters Local 22; Gas Workers Local 686; SEIU 32BJ; Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters; Guardian Civic League; Clean Water Action; The Collective PAC; Philadelphia Young Democrats; Pennsylvania Young Democrats; and Liberty City Democrats
Katherine Gilmore Richardson (Democrat)
The basics: Richardson is the former chief of staff for City Council member Blondell Reynolds Brown, who is retiring. Richardson currently serves as vice president of the Young Philly Democrats and cites her decade of experience working with City Council as one of her most important qualifications.
Priorities: Implementing universal pre-K. Increasing opportunities for small businesses. Creating a program that offers credit toward graduation for students who work with community organizations and business corridors. Fully funding the Community College of Philadelphia.
Dan Tinney (Republican)
The basics: Born and raised in Northeast Philly. Finished first place in the May primary, beating out incumbent at-large City Councilmember Al Taubenberger. Endorsed by high-profile unions, including the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Priorities: Ending the DROP program for elected officials. Keeping citizens safe from crime, drugs, and gun violence by “punish[ing] real criminals and those who push their poison in our city while helping find real treatment for those trapped in addiction.”
Endorsements: Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 5; IAFF, Lodge 22; Phila. Building Trades Council; AFL-CIO, Philadelphia Council; Chamber of Commerce
Al Taubenberger (Republican, Incumbent)
The basics: Taubenberger is the chair of the Committee on Aging — and is on more committees than any of his colleagues, according to his website. He’s also on the board of the crisis-ridden Philadelphia Parking Authority. Previously, he served as the president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Priorities: Modifying the 10-year property tax abatement. Cutting down on illegal trespassing. Reducing the city wage tax. Making Roosevelt Boulevard safer for drivers and pedestrians.
Endorsements: Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5; Philadelphia Building Trades Council; Teamsters Local 830; Teamsters Local 628; IBEW Local 98; Plumbers Local 690; Philadelphia Firefighters and Paramedics Union Local 22; Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 37; District Council 21; AFSCME District Council 33; AFSCME District Council 47; Transport Workers Local 234; Boilermakers Local 13; Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce; Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters, Joint Council 53; Sheet Metal Workers Local 19; Sprinkler Fitters Local 692; ITASE Local 8. Stagehand Workers of Philadelphia & Vicinity; KML Regional Council of Carpenters; OPCMIA Local 592
Matt Wolfe (Republican)
The basics: Wolf is a 63-year-old Penn graduate who’s active in his West Philly neighborhood: He’s served on the board of directors of the Spruce Hill Community Association as well as the board of the Chamber of Commerce of West Philadelphia, Friends of Clark Park, and more. Previously, he’s served as a Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania, as chief counsel of the Department of Labor and Industry under former Gov. Tom Ridge, as assistant counsel for the state Department of Transportation, and as special assistant district attorney under former Philly District Attorney Ron Castille. He’s been a “devoted” Republican since attending college at Penn and law school at Villanova. He still runs his own law office.
Priorities: Ending the city’s “sanctuary city” status. Opposing safe injection sites. Eliminating the soda tax. Preventing new taxes.
Bill Heeney (Republican)
The basics: Heeney, the son of a Philly police officer, grew up in Nicetown and Summerdale. As a former board member of Philly’s Tavern Owners Association and the owner of Fishtown’s Instant Courier Service, he supports local businesses. He’s also a current board member of the United Republicans Club of Philadelphia, as well as the GOP leader of Philly’s 62nd Ward.
Priorities: Opposing safe injection sites. Eliminating the soda tax. Ending Philly’s “sanctuary city” status. Supporting equal pay for women.
David Oh (Republican)
The basics: It used to be the case that Republicans were virtually guaranteed two at-large seats on City Council. But things are changing. Oh is legitimately vulnerable this year, thanks to progressive Working Families Party candidates Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke. If Oh loses — in 2015, he got just shy of 35,000 votes, good for sixth place — it will prove a historic change to the Council status quo.
Priorities: Since first getting elected to the body in 2011, Oh has focused on public education and reducing bloated government expenditures. Oh has also advocated for the Philadelphia Parking Authority to return to city control.
Endorsements: Former Gov. Ed Rendell; Former Gov. Tom Ridge; Former Pa. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille; American Federation of Teachers Local 2026; Transport Workers Union Local 234; Gas Workers Employees Union Local 686; Teamsters Joint Council No. 53; Teamsters Local 830; Teamsters Local 107; The Philadelphia Tribune; School Police Association of Philadelphia; Guardian Civic League; Iron Workers Local 401; Commonwealth Association of School Administrators; Teamsters Local 502; Evening Baptist Ministers Conference; Log Cabin Republicans
Maj Toure (Libertarian)
The basics: Toure has primarily made a name for himself as a gun rights activist and as the founder of the group “Black Guns Matter.” He appears on Fox News from time to time, where he says things like, “All gun control is racist.”
Priorities: Among Toure’s goals: decrease violence in the city and train a violence reduction task force in de-escalation strategies. Toure also supports marijuana legalization and ending solitary confinement in prisons.
Endorsements: Gun Owners of America; Firearms Owners Against Crime
Sherrie Cohen (A Better Council)
The basics: Cohen, a longtime LGBTQ activist who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2011 and 2015, tried her luck yet again in this year’s Democratic primary, before dropping out amid campaign controversy. Now Cohen is vying for a seat as a member of the newly created Better Council Party. Worth noting: Cohen managed to earn 44,000 votes as a Democratic primary candidate back in 2015 — more than the eventual Republican electees received in the general election.
Priorities: Cohen’s platform includes a number of progressive policies: ending the 10-year tax abatement, implementing rent control, lowering the participation age for city elections to 16 years old, creating a democratically elected School Board, and passing a Green New Deal for Philadelphia.
Endorsements: Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia; the Sierra Club of PA; Our Revolution PA
Joe Cox (Independent)
Basics: Cox is running what’s essentially a single-issue campaign centered around improving the safety and cleanliness of of Philadelphia’s streets for pedestrians and bikers. Which makes sense, considering Cox works as a bike messenger for his day job.
Priorities: Cox has proposed improving cleanliness by funding public restrooms and by increasing the number of public trash cans and recycling bins. He has also expressed support for marijuana legalization and ending stop-and-frisk. But he’s really all about cleaner and safer streets.
Endorsements: PA Our Revolution; Philly For Change
Clarc King (Independent)
Basics: King is running as an Independent. In response to our candidate survey, King sent us a series of conspiracy theories, mostly about George Soros.
Priorities: King supports the use of fossil fuels and the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery.
Kendra Brooks (Working Families Party)
Basics: Brooks, a community activist who founded a neighborhood advocacy group in Nicetown and is a member of Mayor Kenney’s School Board advisory team, is one of two candidates running under the banner of the progressive Working Families Party. Her candidacy has been propelled by an unprecedented fundraising effort — more than $300,000 from the national Working Families Party, alongside another $200,000 of direct campaign contributions. (The previous fundraising record for a third-party candidate was just $139,000, according to Billy Penn.) If Brooks is successful, she’ll make history as the first-ever third-party member of City Council.
Priorities: End the 10-year tax abatement. Reduce income inequality through enacting rent control legislation and collecting payments in lieu of taxes from universities.
Endorsements: Councilmember Helen Gym; Senator Elizabeth Warren; State Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, Chris Rabb, Malcolm Kenyatta, Brian Sims, and Movita Johnson-Harrell; and State Sen. Art Haywood; SEIU 32BJ; SEIU Healthcare PA; District 1199C; UNITE HERE Philadelphia; AFSCME DC47; Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, the Pennsylvania Federation of the Brotherhood of the Maintenance of Way Employees Division; AFT Locals 2026 and 4531; One Pennsylvania; Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration; Reclaim Philadelphia; Neighborhood Networks; 215 People’s Alliance; Democracy for America; the Progressive Change Campaign Committee; Philly for Change; Network for Public Education Action; Clean Water Action; the Sunrise Movement; Food and Water Action; Conservation Voters of PA; 350 Philly; the Sierra Club; Make the Road PA; Philly Democratic Socialists of America.
Nicolas O’Rourke (Working Families Party)
Basics: O’Rourke is a community organizer and pastor at a church in Oxford Circle. O’Rourke shares many of the same endorsements and policy positions as fellow Working Families candidate Kendra Brooks. He, too, has eclipsed the previous third-party fundraising record with more than $145,000 of donations.
Priorities: Like Brooks, O’Rourke has proposed eliminating the 10-year tax abatement and instituting payments in lieu of taxes. He has also suggested creating a permanent funding source for the city’s Housing Trust Fund, adding funding for the citizen-led Police Advisory Committee, and creating a municipal bank.
Endorsements: State Sens. Art Haywood and Sen. Vincent Hughes; State Reps. Chris Rabb, Movita Johnson-Harrell, Elizabeth Fiedler, Brian Sims and Malcolm Kenyatta. One Pennsylvania; Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration; Neighborhood Networks; Sunrise Movement Philadelphia; Democratic Socialists of America; Reclaim Philadelphia; Our Revolution; Make the Road Pennsylvania; League of Conservation Voters; Food & Water Action; Clean Water Action; 215 People’s Alliance; SEIU 32BJ; SEIU-HCPA; AFSCME District 1199C; AFSCME DC47; AFT Local 2026; Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals; BMWED-IBT; Temple Association of University Professionals; UNITE HERE Philadelphia.
City Council (District)
Mark Squilla (Democrat)
Basics: Squilla has been in office since 2011. Lately, he’s been focused on passing a bill that would ban plastic bags in Philly. He also introduced the Kenney administration’s bill that would pay all city employees and contractors a $15 minimum wage.
Priorities: Squilla didn’t respond to our candidates survey, but it’s safe to assume he still wants to ban plastic bags.
Daniel Orsino (Republican)
The basics: Orsino appears to be an unconventional Republican candidate. As a member of the LGBTQ community, he’s openly shunned mayoral candidate Billy Ciancaglini, tweeting, “Proud to announce Billy Ciancaglini does not support my candidacy for City Council. It is important to me that people who make horrendous comments against women of color and the LGBTQ community find me a threat.” And some of his proposed policies — increasing school funding, strengthening environmental regulations, reducing the city’s wage tax for those making less than $50,000, promoting reproductive rights, and protecting workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — hew quite closely to those of the Democrats running for Council.
Priorities: Orsino also is in favor of repealing the 10-year tax abatement, and using the money to help reduce HIV rates in the city.
Endorsements: South Philly GOP
Kenyatta Johnson (Democrat)
The basics: Bobby Henon (see below) isn’t the only Democratic Council candidate on the ballot who’s been the subject of interest from the feds. Philly Mag reported in February that the FBI was looking into some of Democratic incumbent Kenyatta Johnson’s land deals. And now there’s a confirmed ongoing investigation. Johnson, for his part, remains on the ballot and has denied any wrongdoing.
Priorities: Johnson’s most notable bill during the last Council session — which sought to ban all bay window construction in his South Philly district — didn’t go anywhere. In the past, he’s focused most on housing policy, funding public parks, and reducing gun violence.
Michael Bradley (Republican)
The basics: Bradley, an Army veteran and head of the Grays Ferry Civic Association, ran unopposed in the Republican primary in May. He’s supported term limits for councilmembers and wants to get rid of “councilmanic prerogative.”
Priorities: Bradley has highlighted fighting corruption in his campaign. He’s pledged to never increase taxes and proposed more frequent audits to discern where exactly the city is spending — or in Bradley’s view, wasting — its money. Bradley also wants to eliminate the soda tax, as well as the wage tax for those living in poverty.
Jamie Gauthier (Democrat)
The basics: Gauthier, the former executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, secured her seat on Council in May, knocking off 27-year incumbent Jannie Blackwell. In an election full of foregone conclusions (see: the mayoral race), this one is even more foregone. Gauthier is running unopposed.
Priorities: Gauthier has sought to limit gentrification by eliminating councilmanic prerogative and reforming the city’s property assessment system. She has also proposed increasing support of community organizations that perform job training to residents of poor neighborhoods, ending the 10-year tax abatement, and establishing a Green New Deal for Philadelphia.
Endorsements: In the primary, Gauthier was endorsed by the 5th Square; the Sierra Club; Philly Set Go; the League of Conservation Voters; Repoint PHL; Ascend; and People for the American Way
Curtis Jones Jr. (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: Born and raised in his district, “Mr4thDistrict” has served on City Council since 2008. Since then he has spent his time working on criminal justice reform, primarily in witness intimidation, discretion in minor offenses, and employment discrimination for the formerly incarcerated. Focused on making information accessible to his constituents, Jones has made an effort to increase transparency and explain things like the city budget through various shows and an infrequent blog written from the perspective of his dog, Captain Jack.
Priorities: Opposing safe injection sites. Supporting the soda tax. Increasing City Council’s transparency.
Matt Baltsar (Libertarian)
The basics: The chair of Philly’s Libertarian party and a tech consultant, Baltsar is looking to unseat incumbent Jones Jr. in the 4th District. After a failed run for state representative in the 194th district in 2018 and fending off a court challenge to appear on this November’s ballot, Baltsar is looking to end two-party dominance in the city.
Priorities: Cutting taxes across the board, especially wage and soda. Ending “corruption and cronyism.” Reducing regulations for businesses.
Karla Cruel (Independent)
The basics: Another challenger in the 4th district, Cruel is a former teacher and now-lawyer. While growing up in West Philly and attending two colleges located in the city (Drexel and St. Joe’s), Cruel says she saw a dramatic change in her neighborhood. As a City Council candidate, Cruel is pushing to have constituents’ voices heard.
Priorities: Increasing access to city documents. Stopping gentrification. Ending the soda tax.
Darrell Clarke (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: Running unopposed in the 5th District, Clarke is a shoe-in. As City Council president and a councilmember since the late ’90s, Clarke has recently received criticism for his office’s connections to a North Philly developer who bought city-owned lots allegedly at less than market value.
Priorities: Supporting the soda tax. Increasing development and economic investment in North Philadelphia. Opposing Temple’s potential football stadium.
Bobby Henon (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: Even with federal corruption charges on his plate (he maintains innocence), Henon ran unopposed in the 6th District primary. A close associate of union leader John Dougherty, Henon will stand trial next September for allegedly accepting bribes, among other accusations.
Priorities: Improving industry in Northeast Philly. Hiring more L&I inspectors. Cracking down on dumpster pools.
Pete Smith (Republican)
The basics: A lifelong Philadelphian, Smith faces an uphill battle in the 6th District. Even in one of the most red districts in the city, the last Republican candidate to make it on the ballot (in 2011) received less than 30 percent of the vote. Still, the block captain is pushing on in hopes of a Northeast neighborhood rallying cry against his indicted opponent.
Priorities: Banning safe injection sites. Promoting alternative, trade-focused curricula for students. Opposing the soda tax. Ending the city’s “sanctuary city” status.
Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: Representing the 7th District since 2008, Quiñones-Sánchez was the first Latina elected to City Council. Though she now runs unopposed, her path to the nomination was rocky. Staring down her district’s ward leaders, she has struck out on their support in each of her four campaigns for City Council. This year’s Democratic favor was swung in favor of state Rep. Angel Cruz, whom she narrowly beat in the May primary. What makes Quiñones-Sánchez such a contentious city Dem? Clashing with Philly’s powerful unions, calling out alleged election anomalies, and attempting to stand in the way of the soda tax.
Priorities: Reforming the tax abatement. Increasing the number of bike lanes throughout the city. Opposing safe injection sites. Opposing term limits for City Council.
Endorsements: Decidedly not the Democratic ward leaders of the 7th District.
Cindy Bass (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: One of five City Council members who took office in 2012, Bass was a relatively quiet representative in the 8th District until 2017, when she championed the controversial “stop-and-go” bill that cracked down on corner stores selling beer and liquor.
Priorities: Upholding regulations on “nuisance businesses.” Abolishing the tax abatement. Supporting charter schools. Opposing the soda tax.
Greg Paulmier (Independent)
The basics: You could say Paulmier stands up when he gets knocked down. You could say it four times, in fact, because that’s how many attempts he’s made at the 8th District seat (not including this year’s try, or his 2015 run that had to be abandoned because of his short signature count). The 60-year resident, real estate owner, and Germantown ward leader certainly is persistent.
Priorities: Addressing gun violence as a public health crisis. Stopping construction of the Nicetown power plant.
Cherelle Parker (Democrat, Incumbent)
The basics: The newest of the district councilmembers, Parker is seeking her first re-election. That doesn’t mean she’s a political novice — she spent 10 years as a state representative. Parker pushed for speed traps on Roosevelt Boulevard (which should be up and running any day now) and was a big proponent of adding the $15 minimum wage question to the May ballot — which passed by a wide margin.
Priorities: Passing $15 minimum wage. Opposing charter schools. Forcing stores to corral their shopping carts. Eliminating late fees at the Free Library.
Judy Moore (Democrat)
The basics: How do you oust a nearly 40-year veteran of City Council? Endorsements, and a lot of them. Invigorated by the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philly, Moore was supported by an organization helping women get elected to office when she successfully ran for her neighborhood’s city committee. Now she’s positioning herself to beat out 10th District councilmember Brian O’Neill with the help of Philadelphia 3.0, a new-ish PAC to be reckoned with.
Priorities: Finding more funding for Philadelphia’s school district. And really, ousting O’Neill.
Endorsements: Firefighters & Paramedics Local 422; Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; SEIU 32BJ; Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters; CWA Local 13000; Transportation Workers Union Local 234; Teamsters Local 115; UFCW Local 1776; AFSCME; DC 47 & 1199C; Laborers Local 332; Plumbers Local 690; Boilermakers Local 13; Philadelphia Democratic Party; and Philadelphia 3.0
Brian O’Neill (Republican, Incumbent)
The basics: O’Neill is the longest-serving member in the modern history of City Council. Coming up on 40 years in office, there’s not much that has fazed the minority leader lately. Facing a candidate who was born the same year he was elected to office, this race might be a true test; if O’Neill is to extend his record, he’ll have to take down Philly 3.0-backed Moore. He might be able to outspend his opponent though, as he reportedly has half a million dollars in his war chest.
Priorities: Opposing safe injection sites. Opposing the city’s “sanctuary city” status. Opposing term limits.
What to know: Philly’s three City Commissioners form a bipartisan board that oversees elections and voter registration. You can vote for two candidates.
What’s at stake: Philly’s incumbent commissioners have (uncharacteristically) been making headlines over the city’s new voting machine process. We’ve got more info on that here. The debacle has prompted residents and journalists to keep a closer watch over the office than usual — and emphasized the role that commissioners play in crucial processes. The race includes two incumbents: Democrat Lisa Deeley and Republican Al Schmidt. Democratic newcomer Omar Sabir is hoping to secure the third seat. You can only vote for two candidates, but since there are three seats (one of which is reserved for a minority party member like Schmidt), all three are pretty much sure to win. Deeley has been involved in local politics since 1994 (including in the City Controller’s Office and Pennsylvania House), and she’s served as a city commissioner since 2016. She boasts of a number of reforms in the office — but it’s worth noting that she lost her notary license last year after she failed to check the identification of a woman whose signature she notarized. Schmidt is a big proponent of using social media to share important election data. And Sabir, a West Philadelphia community activist, said he’s hoping to increase voter turnout and make all voting places more staffed and accessible.
What to know: The Sheriff’s Office ensures the safety of courthouses, transports prisoners to and from court, and auctions court-ordered foreclosures.
What’s at stake: The sheriff’s race saw a high-profile primary this past spring, largely because of reports that outgoing Sheriff Jewel Williams, a Democrat who’s held the office for seven years, has been accused of sexual misconduct in lawsuits by three women. (He denies those allegations.) Philly has never elected a woman to the role of Sheriff, but this year, that’s almost guaranteed to change. Longtime Guardian Civic League president and Democrat Rochelle Bilal is the lone candidate on the ballot.
Register of Wills
What to know: This office is responsible for processing inheritance claims, probating wills, issuing marriage licenses, maintaining inventories of estates, and more. Plus, it serves as agent for the state for filing inheritance taxes. Some people say it should be eliminated. But at the moment, it’s still here — and facing no contenders, community organizer and Democrat Tracey Gordon is set to secure the office.
Depending on your party registration, you’ll have the opportunity to elect Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court judges on Tuesday.
Read about why your decision matters right here — and check out the Philadelphia Bar Association’s voter recommendations (which the organization says is nonpartisan and based on “ability, integrity and judgement”) right here.
The Committee of Seventy offers a helpful guide to the ballot questions via its ballot tool. To access the organization’s explainers (and a ton of info about the candidates you’ll have the opportunity to vote for), click here. You’ll be asked to provide your address and party registration so the ballot test best reflects what you’ll see at the polls on Tuesday. Once you do that, scroll down the menu on the left-hand side of the screen, and click “measures” to see the list of ballot questions.
With additional reporting by Alexander Heller, Rebekah Harding, Ryan Mulligan, and Mayannah Beauvoir.