Mayoral Candidates Rush to Brag About the Size of Their Nominating Petitions

Plus: Two City Council hopefuls got booted out of the race.

mayoral candidates rebecca rhynhart and helen gym

Mayoral candidates Rebecca Rhynhart (left) and Helen Gym (photos via Getty Images)

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Helen Gym and Rebecca Rhynhart Rush to Brag About the Size of Their Nominating Petitions

As I mentioned yesterday, Tuesday was Petition Day in Philadelphia. That was the day when anybody running for mayor, City Council, etc., in the upcoming and overwhelmingly confusing primary had to get their nominating petitions to the City Commissioners office with the required number of signatures by 5 p.m. And before the day was even over, two mayoral candidates fired off emails bragging about the size of their nominating petitions.

First out of the gate was former city councilmember Helen Gym, who, just after 3 p.m., sent out a press release declaring that her volunteers had gathered more than 6,000 signatures when only 1,000 were required.

Here’s what Helen Gym had to say:

From day one, this campaign has been about connecting with community members who want a better future for themselves and their families. Our team of indefatigable volunteers knocked on thousands of doors to have conversations with residents about the issues that matter to them. From retired teachers and food service workers to union members and first-time voters, these volunteers went into communities all over the city to gather these signatures because they believe in this campaign’s vision for our city: one where our neighborhoods are safe, our young people are supported, our schools are fully-funded, and our communities are prosperous. These signatures are a clear demonstration of what a people-powered campaign can do — and we’re just getting started.

Well, I’m not sure if the campaign managers for former city controller Rebecca Rhynhart were already planning on releasing her numbers or if they saw Helen Gym’s announcement and were just like, Oh shit: We beat her!

In any event, less than an hour after we received Helen Gym’s note, a much briefer note from Rebecca Rhynhart showed up in our inbox, announcing that her campaign had collected more than 9,619 signatures.

From Rhynhart:

Today marks an important milestone in this campaign. I submitted over 9,619 petition signatures to become the next Mayor of Philadelphia. I want to say thank you to my team and to the over 200 volunteers who helped me collect signatures. This wave of grassroots support demonstrates what we’ve known all along – Philadelphians want a mayor with the experience I have and the courage I’ve shown taking on the status quo to tackle our city’s issues starting on Day One as Mayor.

It’s worth noting that both candidates were still collecting signatures on Tuesday, the day they submitted their already overflowing petitions.

No word on exactly how many signatures other mayoral candidates received. I asked the city commissioners for a count, but they don’t count the signatures, other than to verify that the candidate has hit the required number.

And, of course, signatures are not votes. You’ve got to get that person who signed your petition at their doorstep or in the neighborhood park to actually show up at the polls on May 16th and cast their ballot in your favor. And with recent voter turnout dismally low and way too many candidates in the race, it’s anybody’s guess who will win this thing, no matter what Jeff Brown’s self-funded poll shows.

OK, But Who Exactly Is Running for Mayor of Philadelphia?

Now that the nominating petitions are in, we can officially answer that question. On Team Democrat, it’s all the names you expected, plus long shot candidates Delscia Gray, James Deleon, John Wood and Warren Bloom. And on Team Republican it’s, well, David Oh, who quit his seat on council to run as a Republican in a town that is defiantly Democrat. I’m actually a little surprised that nobody is challenging him, even a joke candidate. Sometimes you need a joke candidate to provide some comic relief.

Two Council Hopefuls Got Booted Out of the Race

It must really suck to decide that you want to run for political office, mount an effort to collect the required signatures, and then fall short of said requirement by less than 20 signatures. Such is the case with James Wesley Whitehead, a father of two from what was Maria Quiñones Sánchez’s district (she resigned to run for mayor), who was hoping to take the seat in that district as a Republican. Alas, he (like all council candidates) needed 750 signatures. He received 731, according to documents provided by the city.

Speaking of Whitehead’s signatures, I’m just going to drop this image of one page of those signatures here:

That’s some remarkably similar handwriting.

On Team Democrat, council hopeful Charles Reyes (formerly of Mayor Kenney’s office of education) originally showed up with petitions lacking the required number of signatures but then managed to scramble together the difference before 5 p.m. But a potential candidate for council named Terry Bennett couldn’t manage to get enough signatures.

Now that all of the candidates have submitted their petitions, challenges to those petitions can (and will) begin. You can view all of the petitions here.

But What About Ya Fav Trashman?

That’s exactly what Philly Mag deputy editor Bradford Pearson wanted to know. Much had been written about this trash collector turned activist turned potential council candidate, whom we profiled in 2021. In fact, it was just last September when we published the story “Ya Fav Trashman Wants to Become Ya Fav City Councilman”. I reached Ya Fav Trashman (real name: Terrill Haigler) on Wednesday morning, after Pearson noticed the absence of a nominating petition for him. “I just couldn’t get anywhere near enough signatures,” he lamented. “Doing that requires a real operation.” Ya Fav Trashman says his future includes more activism, an entrepreneurial effort or two, and, perhaps, a real political run. “Nothing is off the table,” he says, adding that he’s considering making an endorsement for May, but he’s not quite sure who he’ll endorse just yet.

Internet Vigilantes Gone Wrong

Remember when I told you about the angry white woman in the Montco pizza shop seen on TikTok going off on the Hispanic pizza shop owner in terrible ways? The Inquirer has a good read about Internet vigilantes and how they wrongly targeted three other women for committing those sins.

Who Keeps That Much Cash Around?

Thieves steal $75,000 in cash from a Northern Liberties apartment. Somebody needs to tell the apartment dweller about banks. Or bitcoin.

And from the Tourney-Time Sports Desk …

The Sixers played the Timberwolves on the road last night in their second back-to-back in a week. Questionable to go before the game: P.J. Tucker, Tobias Harris and James Harden. They’re dropping like flies. Volleyball night, so I watched the game on tape delay, which is a plus because you can fast-forward through that excruciating Cure commercial with Tyrese Maxey. Tobias and P.J. were back for tipoff, part of the starting five with Joel Embiid, De’Anthony Melton and Maxey. Both teams came out playing loosey-goosey. Jalen McDaniels’s younger brother Jaden plays for the Wolves; who knew? End of the first quarter: 27-24 Minnesota.

The sub squad looked nice and crisp in the middle of the quarter and kept it close. A Maxey drive and a foul put the Sixers up by one halfway through the quarter, 41-40. He was on fire. With two minutes left in the quarter, it was suddenly 52-43 after a 21-7 Sixers run. Make that 55-43 with a De’Anthony three! And then Joel hit a three: 58-45 at the half!

After the break, the Sixers kept the pedal to the metal as Embiid’s fourth three made it 66-47 just two minutes in. “For your MVP consideration,” Kate said more than once.

The Wolves never mounted a serious challenge through the third; Joel had 36 points with almost four minutes left in the quarter. Headed into the fourth: 87-68. Well. This is not the best team in the Western Conference.

Tyrese for another three in the fourth: 98-74.

Sometimes this team can do no wrong. (Not often enough, though.) The subs were in and doing fine; Paul Reed has really been coming alive. OMG, they even put Furkan Korkmaz in. It’s been a while. And he hit a three! And then a two and was fouled! Final: 117-94. The Sixers are 4-1 on their tough road trip. Woo!

Yesterday was the kickoff to whatever that CONCACAF Champion League thingee for the Union is; they played Alianza to a 0-0 tie. But there was comic relief!

The Rays bested the Phillies yesterday in spring training, 7-3. And on the topic of baseball, the Inky’s Barbara Laker and David Gambacorta had a fascinating piece yesterday on the AstroTurf at Vet Stadium and the bizarre number of ex-Phils who contracted a rare brain cancer. Their next game is Thursday against the Orioles.

In college hoops, St. Joe’s bested the Loyola Ramblers in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament yesterday, 72-67. Their prize: They get to go up against George Washington today at 5 p.m. In the same tourney, 11th-ranked La Salle knocked off 14th-ranked Rhode Island, 73-56. Tonight, sixth-seeded Villanova meets 11th-seeded Georgetown in the Big East tournament at 8 p.m.

Some local honors: Penn’s Jordan Dingle has been named the Ivy League’s Men’s Player of the Year. And Drexel’s Keishana Washington is the CAA women’s Player of the Year.

All Philly Today Sports Desk coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.