TUESDAY'S WINNING candidates - for mayor, Council and other slots - have been feted, toasted with steaks, drinks and, no doubt, a variety of other substances. The huge margin won by Jim Kenney and the disappointing numbers for Anthony Hardy Williams have been parsed and analyzed.
Now it's time to salute the losers.
Among the notable changes that the May 19 primary signaled was the field of challengers for City Council seats. Two hotly contested district contests, the 2nd and the 7th, saw the incumbents ultimately prevail. But the at-large candidates on both the Democratic and Republican sides presented an impressive list of challengers. Helen Gym, Allan Domb and Derek Green will unseat Democratic incumbents Wilson Goode Jr. and Ed Neilson, while three new Republican faces - Terry Tracey, Daniel Tinney and Al Taubenberger - will battle it out with two incumbents in November for two Republican seats.
But those candidates who didn't prevail also deserve shout-outs for presenting strong challenges to the status quo, especially Thomas Wyatt, Paul Steinke and Sherrie Cohen, young candidate Jenne Ayers, and Republicans Matt Wolfe and James Williams. Notable for a wide range of business, finance and public-service experience, their presence and effective campaigns added urgency and interest to Council races. It also sent a message that lack of term limits and the edge once ascribed to political or other dynasties may no longer be factors in who succeeds in joining the city's lawmaking body.
We doubt we've seen the last of Councilman Wilson Goode Jr., either, although his loss came as a surprise, particularly if you interpreted Jim Kenney's win as an embrace of progressive values. Goode has been a consistent champion on behalf of equity and diversity in his years on Council, and his grilling of those testifying in Council on a variety of issues was reliably surgical and relentless.
Goode also may have been a victim of the scourge (or best friend) of candidates in every election: ballot position. Goode was dead last on a long ballot, and in past races, other candidates who have pulled a low position have been known to drop out of races completely. Such a technicality makes a sham of democracy. It's time to consider a simple fix for this, that might include randomizing names on ballots across the city instead of having one fixed ballot for all. The city commissioners should begin to look into how this change might be effected.
Tuesday's primary signaled a number of potential big changes in the city. For one thing, black voters dismissed a black candidate out of hand over a white one, which is unusual if you've grown up in this city, and startling if you are a student of the old political math.
As usual, though, the only math that counts is the strength of the candidate. And Kenney ran a smart campaign that relied on building powerful coalitions. In the likely event he becomes mayor, we hope that coalition-building becomes a primary theme of his administration. Sen. Tony Williams' campaign promised "One Philadelphia," but Kenney is a leader who actually could make that happen.
Now we just need someone who can do something about the abysmal voter turnout. Only 27 percent of registered voters participated in the primary. At a time when moves to undermine voting rights remain strong, this is a deeply troubling trend that will take all of us to fix.