If you're not paying attention to the City Council races, it's about time to start.

With five members retiring and several more seats competitive, the next Council will have the most freshmen members since 1991 when seven newcomers were elected.

The Daily News will break down everything you need to know about the competitive races in coming days.

7th District

The 7th District is easily the city's most gerrymandered, with a large chunk in North Philadelphia and boundaries that twist and turn from around Temple University up to Welsh Road in Northeast Philly.

Open/contested: Freshman Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez is trying to win a second term against the rookie she unseated in the 2007 primary.

Who's running:

- Maria Quinones Sanchez, 42, a community activist who formerly worked for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, the Philadelphia City Commission and City Council.

- Dan Savage, 39, a ward leader who recently went on leave from his job as a safety officer for the state Turnpike Commission.

Debate: 7 tonight, Urban Hope Training Center & Community Church, 210 E. Tioga St.

Key issues: Savage sticks to a message about too much crime and blight and too few jobs in a district known for all three characteristics.

Sanchez has made a name on Council as one of its more thoughtful members, looking for ways to improve the city's standing by reworking the way companies are taxed here.

Who has the edge?

Savage is endorsed by a majority of the district's ward leaders, who selected him to be their candidate in a 2006 special election after Rick Mariano gave up the seat to serve a term in federal prison on corruption charges.

Sanchez beat Savage, who held office for just 13 months, in 2007 with 52 percent of the vote. But that was an election that sparked interest with voters because it included an open race for mayor. This is likely to be a smaller turnout year for voters, which tends to favor ward-leader backed candidates.