Ten Out of Ten District Council Members Have Challengers in 2019

(Committee of Seventy button wall | Photo: Jon Geeting)

Philadelphia is coming off of two unusually competitive and high-turnout election cycles in 2017 and 2018, in the wake of Donald Trump's surprise 2016 victory, and while we're still too far from Election Day to know whether 2019 will fit the pattern, early signs point to another lively change election. Case in point: ten out of ten District Council members are facing a primary challenge.

The period to circulate nominating petitions begins next Tuesday, so in about a month we'll know for sure who will be on the ballot, but in the meantime, the most authoritative source on the current candidate pool is the Board of Ethics's running list of who's filed.

Here's who's filed with the city to run for District Council seats so far as of February 14th:

Some of these people are starting out with more name recognition or resources or other advantages than others, but what's surprising is the high percentage who could plausibly run a real race. In contrast with prior cycles, where it was really only the 7th and 8th Districts seeing any competition, this year there isn't one incumbent who can afford to take their reelection for granted.

On the At-Large side, there are as of now 21 Democrats, 7 Republicans, and 2 independents vying for 7 Council seats, according to this document, and only one of those is an incumbent (Helen Gym.) Derek Green recently announced he would run for reelection, and Allan Domb is also expected to file again.

There are also competitive downballot races for Sheriff, with Rochelle Bilal and Malika Rahman challenging confirmed sexual harasser Jewell Williams, and a 9-way Democratic primary to replace chronic no-show City Commissioner Anthony Clark, who, rather unsatisfyingly, is retiring at the end of his term.

So far there are also 44 judicial candidates either confirmed or rumored to be running this year, according to the Philly Judges site. 

As we've said in the past in the case of the 2018 ward elections, the antidote to the despair over federal politics is to get more involved in these local races, where even a few hours of volunteering or a small donation to a candidate you support can really make an outsized difference in the elections this May 21st.

With petitions starting this Tuesday, it's a great time to reach out to one of the campaigns you're interested in and help collect signatures to get them on the ballot. And if there's anyone in particular you're interested in connecting with, send us an email at [email protected], and there's a good chance we can help.

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  • Meenal Raval
    commented 2019-02-17 08:15:00 -0500
    Is anyone building a calendar of events for all this activity? If not, suggest referring to and updating this one: https://calendar.google.com/calendar?cid=MDJqamhiZWU1aWVuYXN1bnIyZjBhZ3AxcTBAZ3JvdXAuY2FsZW5kYXIuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbQ
  • Noah Goldman
    commented 2019-02-15 15:27:45 -0500
    Last year I went to one or two Philadelphia 3.0 meetings. There was a lot of talk about Republicans and Democrats (more talk about Dems) but when I asked a question about non-bipartisans or third party participation I was laughed at.

    I would love to run for council. I am still registered as a Democrat, but if I were to run I would not feel comfortable running as a democrat. I think a successful, happy Philadelphia requires the flexibility to not have to prescribe to one channel of political culture.

    In order to make leaps and strides in a positive direction I look to the past. Did you know that Former President Teddy Roosevelt, the president responsible for the creation of the National Parks system was neither a democrat or republican? He was from a party that was known as the Progressive Party. Can we as Philadelphians come out with our own collective definition of ‘progress’? I think it is worth trying.
    Did you know that just in Pennsylvania alone, there have been way more political parties than the big two? Here is a list I copied from Wikipedia:
    Anti-Administration (AA); Anti-Masonic (AM); Democratic (D); Democratic-Republican (DR); Federalist (F); Jacksonian (J); no party (N), or unknown; National Union (NU); National Republican (NR); Opposition (O); Pro-Administration (PA); Progressive (P); Republican®; Whig (W); and a tie or coalition within a group of elected officials.

    I share this information with you all to remind you that bipartisanship isn’t an American convention, it’s an American trick. We can be capitalist and still maintain a level of compassion for those who could use some assistance or help.

    As the son of a holocaust survivin’ rocket sciencin’ freedom marchin’ Rabbi (once known as the Hippie Rabbi of Green Street), I can bring a unique altruistic perspective to local politics.

    Philadephia: from Greek, taken by William Penn to mean “brotherly love,” from philos “loving” (see -phile) + adelphos “brother” (see Adelphia). Also the name recalls that of the ancient city in Lydia, mentioned in the New Testament, which was so called in honor of Attalos II Philadelphos , 2c B.C.E.