2019 elections in Pennsylvania and New Jersey: A voters guide to Philly mayor, City Council, and more
With everything going on, voters could be forgiven for not realizing that there’s actually an election Tuesday. But there is, with important races in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs. Here’s everything voters in the Philadelphia area need to know before Election Day.
The midterm elections that swept Democrats into power in Congress are a distant memory. Washington has impeachment fever. The 2020 presidential race is heating up. And in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney is privately talking about running for governor in 2022.
With everything going on, voters could be forgiven for not realizing that there’s actually an election Tuesday. But there is, with important races in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs. Mayors, municipal council members, state lawmakers, county commissioners, district attorneys, judges, and more will be on the ballot.
It’s expected to be a low-turnout affair, as off-year elections often are. In Philadelphia, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 7-1, most of the drama was in the May primary. But there are still races to watch for City Council seats in Philadelphia, a pivotal County Council race in Delaware County, Assembly seats in New Jersey, and more.
Here’s everything voters in the Philadelphia area need to know on Election Day.
When do polls open and close on Election Day? And how can I find my polling place?
Polling places can change, so be sure to check where you’re going ahead of time.
New Jersey polling places are open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. Go to the New Jersey Department of State’s website to find your polling place.
What races are on the ballot in Philly, and who are the candidates?
In Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney is widely expected to cruise to reelection for a second term against Republican Billy Ciancaglini. Kenney faced little opposition in the primary and hasn’t actively campaigned in the general election. On Wednesday, The Inquirer reported that he’s considering a run for governor.
There are also competitive City Council races. In the 10th District, which covers part of Northeast Philly, longtime Republican Councilman Brian O’Neill is fighting off a challenge from Democrat Judy Moore. And the progressive Working Families Party, led by candidate Kendra Brooks, is mounting the most well-funded attempt in years by a third party to try win one or both of the at-large Council seats that the city’s Home Rule Charter designates for minority parties. If Brooks or her fellow Working Families Party candidate, Nicolas O’Rourke, finish in the top two among candidates for at-large minority party seats, that would oust either incumbent Republican Councilmen David Oh or Al Taubenberger — or both. Taken together, the Council races have the potential to usher a new class of liberal lawmakers into City Hall and further marginalize Republicans, pushing local government policy leftward.
What races are on the ballot in the Pa. suburbs and who are the candidates?
In Delaware County, Democrats could take control of the five-member County Council for the first time in history. Three seats are open, and Democrats need to win just one to take the majority after capturing two in 2017. For the three open seats, Democratic candidates Elaine Schaefer, Monica Taylor, and Christine Reuther are running against Republican candidates Mike Morgan, Kelly Colvin, and James Raith. There’s also a closely watched race for district attorney, with Democrat Jack Stollsteimer challenging Republican incumbent District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland. That race drew a $100,000 investment from liberal billionaire George Soros.
In Chester County, District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan isn’t seeking reelection after eight years in office. The Republican nominee is Hogan’s No. 2, Michael Noone. He’s running against Democrat Deb Ryan, a former prosecutor in Hogan’s office. If Ryan wins, she would be the first Democrat and the first woman ever elected district attorney in Chester County. Also, longtime Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh is retiring. Republican Jim Fitzgerald, a retired FBI agent, and Democrat Fredda Maddox, a lawyer and former Pennsylvania state trooper, are vying to succeed Welsh.
In Montgomery County, a large voter registration edge means Democrats are all but certain to retain the majority on the Board of Commissioners. Less certain is the fate of the seat reserved for a member of the minority party. Republican Commissioner Joe Gale, who is at odds with the county party, is up against fellow GOPer Fred Conner.
And in Bucks County, Democrats are fighting to take control of the Board of Commissioners after Republicans maintained their majority by less than 730 votes in 2015. Democrats Diane Ellis-Marseglia and Robert Harvie are up against incumbent Republican Commissioner Robert Loughery and Republican State Rep. Gene DiGiorlamo.
What races are on the ballot in the N.J. suburbs and who are the candidates?
All 80 New Jersey Assembly seats are up for grabs on Tuesday, as well as one state Senate seat. Democrats aren’t seen as at risk of losing their majority in the Assembly.
In New Jersey’s 1st Legislative District, which covers Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties, Democratic State Sen. Bob Andrzejczak is running to keep the seat for a full term after filling a vacancy caused by Jeff Van Drew’s heading to Congress earlier this year. He is facing Republican candidate Mike Testa, a lawyer from Vineland, in a special election.
In the 1st District’s Assembly races, Democratic Assemblymen Bruce Land and Matthew Milam are going up against Republican Lower Township Mayor Erik Simonsen and Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan, respectively. The district leans conservative and voted handily for Donald Trump in 2016.
In New Jersey’s 8th Legislative District, which covers most of Burlington County and parts of Atlantic and Camden Counties, Democrats are fielding two political newcomers for Assembly: Gina LaPlaca, a former adviser to the New Jersey Democratic Assembly caucus from Lumberton, and Mark Natale, an employment lawyer from Marlton. They are facing off against Republican Assemblyman Ryan Peters and former Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield, respectively.
Are there other races on the ballot?
There two open seats on the 15-member Superior Court, which typically sits in three-judge panels in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, and hears thousands of appeals every year on civil and criminal cases, as well as family matters. Democrats have nominated Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Daniel McCaffery and Pittsburgh labor lawyer Amanda Green-Hawkins. Republicans nominated Megan McCarthy King, a Chester County assistant district attorney, and Cumberland County Court Judge Christylee Peck.
Also on the ballot will be candidates for Common Pleas Court, the court of general trial jurisdiction. In Philadelphia, seven Democrats are running uncontested. A Democrat is running uncontested for Municipal Court. Fifteen local Philadelphia judges also face retention elections.
While the Philadelphia judicial races were essentially decided in the primary, the statewide Superior Court election is drawing money and attention, with Democrats, Republicans, and special interest groups spending at least $2 million on TV ads.
What do I do if I’m having problems at the polls?
Campaign materials being handed out a little too close for comfort? Voting machine broken?
You can report that. Voter intimidation, coercion, threats, and anything else that hinders a person from voting fairly is considered a civil rights violation of federal election law, according to the U.S. government’s explanation of voting and election laws.
You can report problems through the Department of Justice’s election complaint report site or by contacting your state or local election office.
In Pennsylvania, you can report election complaints to the Department of State through an online form or by phone at 1-877-VOTESPA. The Philadelphia city commissioners have a list of go-to numbers to contact if you’re experiencing things like voter machine or polling place issues. Contact information for other election offices throughout Pennsylvania can be found through the Votes PA website.