On the Sunday before a primary election, Philadelphia voters can expect to find politicians in the pews at churches and in the booths at diners where they eat after services.
The third Democrat running for mayor this year, former City Controller Alan Butkovitz, barreled through the Dining Car in Northeast Philadelphia, introducing himself and handing out campaign fliers to potential voters eating breakfast and lunch.
Joe DeLullo was persuadable, telling Butkovitz he is unhappy with Kenney as mayor.
“I made a mistake voting for him the last time,” DeLullo said. “Nobody can get a hold of him. And I heard you did good in the debate.”
A president not on the ballot but in the conversation
Kenney had one other stop on his schedule Sunday, a brief speech at the Anti-Defamation League’s “Walk Against Hate” at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia. There, he complained about “leadership in this country that thinks that racism and misogyny and bigotry is OK and tweets about it regularly” – an apparent reference to President Donald Trump – and urged the crowd to stand against that.
“I think when beautiful people come together in brotherhood and sisterhood, we can overcome this and we can wait this guy out at some point in time,” Kenney said. “The elections will take care of themselves, but we need to take care of each other."
With 28 Democrats and seven Republicans running for seven City Council at-large seats – along with races for judge, sheriff, city commissioner, register of wills, and other offices on Tuesday’s ballot – candidates faced busy schedules Saturday and Sunday, working their get-out-the-vote programs and rallying supporters.
Between church at Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Fairmount and a day of canvassing, Eryn Santamoor, a Democrat running at-large, stopped Sunday at Little Pete’s Restaurant. Before sitting down to eat with her parents, she hit every table in the diner.
On the TVs behind her, a steady stream of campaign ads played for other candidates.
“Folks really are just starting to pay attention,” Santamoor said, “which is exciting and a little terrifying. But I feel really good."
At Sharon Baptist in Wynnefield, at-large Democratic candidate Katherine Gilmore Richardson stood as she was recognized along with several other candidates in attendance, including Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, running for reelection in West Philadelphia’s Third District, and Omar Sabir, who is running for city commissioner.
Gilmore Richardson said she had volunteers at 20 churches on the sunny May morning. Her next stop was the Church of God Prophecy in North Philadelphia, where her mother was once pastor.
“I’m feeling very good spiritually,” she said. “It’s surreal because you worked so hard for this moment and it’s right here, you can taste it. You want to leave no stone unturned.”
Looking forward to Tuesday’s finish line
Emotions were running high for some Council candidates Saturday, as well, at an SEIU 32BJ union rally.
“I can’t wait until this is over,” said Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, who is challenged in her bid for a fourth term in the Seventh District by State Rep. Angel Cruz.
She wasn’t the only candidate looking forward to the finish line.
“No sleep, a bunch of anxiety, probably grew a few gray hairs,” said Isaiah Thomas, a Democratic at-large Council candidate running for the third time. “Other than that, things are great.”
Thomas, who also attended the union rally, said his plan for the next few days was canvassing and making sure people who previously expressed support for him show up to the polls Tuesday.
“I don’t know what else to do differently,” he said. “Best campaign I’ve run, most support I’ve ever had.”
About 150 32BJ members had split up into three groups to go canvassing following the rally -- for Councilman Kenyatta Johnson in the Second District, which includes South Philadelphia; Blackwell, in West Philadelphia; and Quiñones-Sánchez, in Mayfair.
Kenney, who attended Saturday’s rally, said he was “feeling good” about his chances Tuesday. No incumbent mayor who has sought a second term has been denied since two terms were authorized seven decades ago.
Kenney pushed back on complaints from Williams and Butkovitz that he has intentionally run a low-key campaign.
“I’ve been campaigning for months and trying to do my job,” he said. “When I ran in 2015, I didn’t have a job. I was like Butkovitz. I could just do everything every day. Now I have a job; a job and a half. I have to be a candidate, too. I’m sorry if my opponents are disappointed.”