by Pete Mazzaccaro
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Pennsylvanians will go to the polls for state and municipal elections. In Philadelphia, voters will cast votes for Mayor, City Council and several ballot questions. Statewide, there are retention votes for the Supreme and Superior courts.
There are a number of elections that are essentially rubber stamps in which the candidates running are guaranteed seats: the City Commissioners office, Register of Wills and Sheriff have as many candidates as open seats. The race for Mayor is also less than competitive, with incumbent Democrat Jim Kenney the safe bet to win a second term. His opponent in Republican Billy Ciancaglini who has largely campaigned to end the city’s “sanctuary status” and to repeal its soda tax.
Council District 8
The most consequential race in Northwest Philadelphia is that for the 8th District Council seat:
Democratic incumbent Cindy Bass won nomination without an opponent after a challenge she filed to the financial statement of her competitor, Tanya Bah, successfully disqualified the candidate. Bass has been the district councilperson since winning election in 2011 (her first term began in January of 2012). She is seeking her third term.
Bass has said her main focus if reelected will continue to be ending the 10-year tax abatement and using the additional tax revenue to boost funding for the city’s public schools. She told the Committee of 70 that she wants to end the Community Umbrella Agency, a network of nonprofits employed by DHS to administer to children who are pulled from homes and placed in foster care.
“Investing in families, particularly those facing the challenges of poverty, interaction with DHS, mental health services, etc. is critical,” Bass said. “I will continue to promote an Equity Agenda to level the playing field for our families and students.”
Her opponent, Greg Paulmier, should be a familiar face to Northwest voters. He’s run for the seat multiple times as a Democrat in May primaries, dating back to a run in 1999, and decided this year to join the race as an Independent.
Paulmier, a lifelong Germantown resident, has been a Democratic committeeperson and ward leader for more than 30 years. He’s worked in private home redevelopment in the neighborhood for much of that time.
Paulmier said his three priorities if elected would be to hold public hearings on the Council’s budget, economic equity and public-school funding.
“I want to put my experience and energy into restoring accessibility and fiscal accountability to our local government,” Paulmier told the local election website Ballotpedia. “We all know the challenges of the Northwest. There is no ques tion that better leadership in our district council seat would empower our families and provide all of us with a better quality of life.”
There are 17 people running for seven available seats on Philadelphia’s City Council-at-Large. The city’s charter contains a provision by which no party can control more than five of the seven seats available. That has created a council-at-large in which the five Democrats running win seats and the top two Republican winners get the remaining seats.
The five Democrats running will all likely win. That means a likely return to office for incumbents Allan Domb, Derek Green and Helen Gym. Newcomers Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas will likely take the place of the two Democrats who decided to retire from council this year: Blondell Reynolds Brown and Bill Greenlee.
The two traditionally Republican seats were held this past term by David Oh an Al Taubenberger, both who are looking for an additional term. Republicans Matt Wolfe, Dan Tinney and Bill Heeney are running to take those seats themselves.
Seven more third-party candidates and independents are also seeking office, hoping to garner enough votes to unseat the two Republicans. The most promising campaigns for those seats include two candidates running as part of the Working Families Party: Kendra Brooks and Nicholas O’Rourke. Brooks has made headlines for raising more money than any other third-party candidate ever has in a run for City Council in the city.
Late councilman David Cohen’s daughter Sherrie is also running as an independent after originally dropping out. Cohen, a longtime LGBTQ+ activist, quit the race after her campaign staffer confronted a trans woman over her identity at a transgender pride event in the city.
Other candidates running are Libertarian Maj Toure and independents Steve Cherniavski, Joe Cox, and Clark King.
There are numerous judicial races that will be on the ballot for people inside and outside of the city.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court has two judges up for retention: Anne Lazarus and Judy Olson. A partisan Superior Court contest will ask voters to choose two from among four candidates: Democrats Amanda GreeHawkins and Daniel McCaffrey and Republicans Megan McCarthy King and Christylee Peck.
In the city, there are a number of other retention votes for Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court. It’s worth nothing that all seeking retention have been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
For an in-depth story on the state ballot question on a controversial criminal rights bill, see page 5 of this week’s Local.
For more information about candidates, find your polling place and to create your own sample ballot, see Ballot.Seventy.org
Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-248-8802.