State Rep. Angel Cruz and Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez have shared constituents for more than a decade. He represents a part of North Philadelphia in Harrisburg, she advocates for it in City Council.
But the two legislators hardly ever speak. They don’t pose for pictures at ribbon-cutting ceremonies. When they do interact, it’s almost always ugly.
“She’s a bully,” said Cruz, 53. “And then when we go after her it’s, ’Boo hoo, feel sorry for me. I’m a woman.' Don’t use that woman stuff. Take care of your constituents.”
“He’s been in Harrisburg 20 years. What has he done?” Quiñones-Sánchez, 50, said last week. “He’s put out these resolutions to nowhere and now he wants a promotion? ... He’s such a hater. He’s so miserable you can’t even be logical with him.”
It doesn’t end there. Cruz says Quiñones-Sánchez is out of touch, arrogant, and unable to work with ward leaders whose support, he argues, could make progress in struggling neighborhoods easier.
Quiñones-Sánchez says Cruz is part of a political machine known, particularly in North Philadelphia, for a history of corruption. She’s accused him of orchestrating voter fraud in the 2015 election.
“It’s the most volatile that I’ve seen it in a long time,” said former Congressman Bob Brady, who chairs the city’s Democratic Party. “It’s just negative, been like that for the longest time. If it was me and I was the elected official, I’d try to reach out and continue to reach out to people and see what their needs are.”
It could also be one of the city’s closest Council elections in the May 21 primary. Voter turnout is extremely low in the 7th, which is also the city’s poorest district, with the highest rates of violent crime. Four years ago, Quiñones-Sánchez won by fewer than 1,000 votes (out of 12,000 cast) against a far more controversial opponent. This time, Cruz, himself a ward leader, has the backing of eight of 12 ward organizations, which wield power in the district.