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In one of the most anticipated mayoral races in years, several of Philadelphia’s highest-profile politicos are resigning from their current positions and throwing their hats in the ring.
With the mayoral primary just four months away, several candidates have launched campaigns with hopes of becoming the city’s 100th mayor. In one of the most highly anticipated mayoral races in years, several of Philadelphia’s highest-profile politicos are resigning from their current positions and throwing their hats in the ring. Thus far, we’ve seen two wealthy businessmen join the race alongside a handful of city council members, including women of color expected to be early favorites.
With the city in a time of upheaval coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, residents are seeking change that can resolve worsening issues related to public safety, education, housing and more. Will the city’s progressive movement overcome the Democratic establishment? Will a political outsider shake things up in a race full of Council members? Will the city see its first female mayor in history? All these questions will be answered soon enough.
As of Thursday, Jan. 5, these are the people being talked about as Mayor Jim Kenney’s replacement.
Former At-Large City Council member
Green resigned from Council at the beginning of September and was one of the first members to formally announce a bid for mayor. The at-large Council member was head of Council’s Finance Committee and helped craft the business tax cut implemented in this year’s budget. Likely considered a more moderate Democrat than others considering a run, Green was formerly an assistant district attorney and a staffer to former City Councilmember Marian Tasco.
Former City Councilmember, 7th District
Quiñones-Sánchez has been described as a “maverick,” often bucking her own party on policy issues. She was the first Latina member of Council, elected in 2007 and was the only member willing to speak out after the corruption convictions of labor leader John J. Dougherty and her former colleague, Councilmember Bobby Henon. She’s looking to become the first woman to lead City Hall. She has represented some of the poorest neighborhoods in North Philadelphia and has won all of her elections without support from the Democratic establishment.
Former City Councilmember, 9th District
Parker followed Green and Quiñones-Sánchez out the City Hall door, becoming the third councilmember to resign and announce a run for mayor. Parker, Council’s then-majority leader, was a second-term councilmember who represented the 9th district in the Mount Airy section of the city. Parker was also a staffer for Tasco before she became the youngest African American woman elected to the state House of Representatives. After 10 years serving in Harrisburg, Parker now chairs the Delaware River Port Authority and maintains a focus on the city’s labor sector. Both Green and Parker trace back their starts to the politically powerful “Northwest Coalition,” which could lead to both candidates jockeying for support from this critical group of Black and Brown voters.
Former City Controller
Rhynhart came to Philadelphia with financial experience from a career on Wall Street. Having previously served as then-Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget director, Rhynhart assumed the role of City Controller in 2017 and quickly became one of the harshest critics of Kenney. She has issued several audits and reports calling for the city to modernize and reform its spending habits, and formally launched her campaign in October with a central message of addressing crime and safety.
Former City Councilmember, At-Large
Domb was the first councilmember to resign, setting the stage for others to follow suit. He didn’t formally join the race, however, before conducting a listening tour over the last several weeks around Philadelphia. Known as the “Condo King,” Domb was elected to Council in 2015 after making a name for himself as a Philadelphia real estate mogul. He, alongside grocer Jeff Brown, would be considered a business-friendly outsider who can pour his own wealth into his campaign.
Chair and CEO, Brown’s Super Stores
Another long-anticipated campaign got its official start last year. Grocery giant Jeff Brown officially announced his campaign in November with a focus on upending the status quo and career politicians in City Hall. Although he’s never held elected office, Brown has been a critic of Kenney and is a well-known name in the region and its political space. Brown owns Brown’s Super Stores, which operates more than a dozen ShopRites and Fresh Grocers in food deserts across Philadelphia. He’s also worked to hire formerly incarcerated people, which could help provide a backdrop to his political priorities.
Former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge
One of the lesser known names to join the list of candidates is a retired Judge James Deleon. Deleon, who recently retired after serving for 34 years on the bench, announced his candidacy in November and has written about addressing gun violence in the past. His campaign website says he plans to prioritize anti-gun violence initiatives as well as youth ambassadorships and education and housing reform.
Former City Council member
Gym, the now former at-large Council member, received the most votes of any Council candidate in 2019. She made her official campaign announcement late last year, promising to address public safety by declaring a state of emergency on her first day in office and prioritizing improving homicide clearance rates. Gym is a longtime progressive activist that’s likely to receive support from the grassroots groups that have backed successful candidates such as District Attorney Larry Krasner in the past. A strong advocate for workers’ rights and fair housing, Gym has championed legislation advocating for more public school funding and the so-called “Fair Workweek” law, among other protections.
State Representative, 190th District
State Rep. Amen Brown has earned a reputation as a tough-on-crime Democrat that’s not afraid to go against members of his own party. Brown, who has been supported by conservative billionaire Jeff Yass in the past, confirmed the rumors surrounding a potential mayoral run by announcing his candidacy last month. Brown also has the backing of New York City real estate developer Marty Burger, who has vowed to kick off Brown’s campaign with $5 million in a newly established super PAC. In his first event with supporters, the West Philadelphia legislator shared his experiences with gun violence and said as mayor, he’d prioritize public safety.
Considering a run
Former two-term Mayor of Philadelphia
The surprises in the primary field may not be over just yet. The new year came with rumors that Michael Nutter, the former two-term mayor who preceded Kenney, is considering another run for the city’s executive office. The city charter limits mayors to two consecutive terms, but doesn’t prevent them from seeking a third term after taking a term off. Nutter has reportedly fielded calls from donors and politicos who are asking him to seek another term. While he has yet to comment on the validity of the rumors, Nutter’s potential entrance into the race would be a major development in a crowded Democratic field without a clear frontrunner.
City Council Deputy Majority Whip, 8th District
In her third term as a Council member, Bass has maintained a focus on neighborhood quality-of-life issues. She previously served under then-state Sen. Allyson Schwartz and U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. Her Nuisance Business Bill sought to hold businesses accountable for failing to curb loitering or public drunkenness, and she continues to call for more funding to address the city’s chronic dumping problems.
City Council member, At-Large
The lone Republican on this list, Oh is a longshot candidate who’s carved a niche as a business-friendly councilmember. As a champion of immigrant rights, veterans and small business ownership, Oh sets himself apart from the Republican Party while still garnering some support outside of the GOP strongholds in Northeast and South Philadelphia.
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