It was quite a primary Tuesday, with a record number of candidates running for City Council at large. In the end, three new faces emerged victorious.
In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 7-1, they are likely to win in November. All are 40 or younger, which will reduce the average age on Council, currently 58.
Here’s a look at the candidates, their path to victory, and what they said they’d prioritize on the job in interviews with the Inquirer Editorial Board or reporters.
Trained as an urban planner, Gauthier has worked in affordable housing, commercial corridor revitalization, and small business development. She is the former head of the Sustainable Business Network and the Fairmount Park Conservancy. Gauthier grew up in Kingsessing, moved away, and returned about a decade ago to raise her sons here.
She unseated Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, who has represented the 3rd District for 27 years. Gauthier built a broad base of support and prompted high turnout in University City and bordering neighborhoods. She also benefited from the support of the political action committee Philadelphia 3.0. No Republican is running against her in November.
“Ending the 10-year tax abatement, to ensure we have additional, vital funding for our schools. This could also help to stem gentrification in the city and in the 3rd District.”
“Poverty. Thirty-three percent of residents in the 3rd District are living in poverty, a rate that is higher than our city’s average.”
“Gaining local control of our school board.”
“My father, Leon Williams, is my political mentor. He is an intelligent, independent-minded community activist who taught me what it means to serve community and challenge the status quo.”
Gilmore Richardson worked for 11 years for Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who is retiring at the end of the year and backed Gilmore Richardson’s campaign. She is a mother of three and prioritized education and addressing poverty.
Gilmore Richardson received the key backing of the city Democratic Party, including the powerful Northwest coalition. She was one of the candidates with the most endorsements, including from labor. Later in the race, she also benefited from the support of a political action committee that aired TV ads for her and three other candidates.
“I would champion a city/School District partnership to create a pipeline to city jobs for high school students who attend career/trade and technical schools.”
“Poverty. Twenty-six percent of people in Philadelphia are living in poverty. We must end generational poverty by investing in our education system, investing in small and middle-market businesses and neighborhood commercial corridors to spur job creation, increase public safety, and criminal justice reform.”
“The $100 million bond proposal for Philadelphia’s existing housing stock that significantly reduced the backlog of low-income homeowners who received grants for housing repairs. The second part of the bond proposal, ‘Restore, Repair, Renew,’ resulted in the creation of a low-interest loan program that helps residents fix older homes. This policy helps low- and middle-income Philadelphians, living in mostly middle neighborhoods, keep, preserve, and stay in their homes.”
Blondell Reynolds Brown.
Thomas is executive director of Philadelphia Freedom Schools and head basketball coach at Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter. He worked for then-City Controller Alan Butkovitz from 2015 to 2018. Thomas is a graduate of Frankford High School who ran twice before for City Council.
Thomas was the second-highest vote-getter in the at-large race, despite a lower ballot position in a field of 28. He was endorsed by the Democratic City Committee and had more labor endorsements than anyone else. Thomas also had the experience to adjust campaign tactics, having come close to victory in 2015 and having run in 2011.
“My priority will be issues related to our young people. I want to fight for changes in our curriculum — that’s not legislation, Council can’t do that directly, but it needs to happen. I want to make sure we’re providing more out-of-school programs for our children. On the legislation side, I think we should revisit resign-to-run. In the post-Trump era world of politics, we need people able to go to D.C. and fight for us in Harrisburg.”
“I think the quality of life of children, conditions they live in. I don’t want to just say schools, because poverty and experiences are more than just eight hours a day and 10 months out of the year.”
“Local control [of schools]. I know we didn’t do that as a city — that was more of a state decision, with the city signing off — but my instinct would say local control, as far as the most important.”