Election Preview: Mayor, City Council and more

2023 election Philadelphia
Cherelle Parker speaks Tuesday, Aug. 29, at an SEIU 32BJ rally in Center City.
Jack Tomczuk

Philadelphians will be going to the polls Tuesday to select their next mayor, City Council members and row officers.

Voters across Pennsylvania will be choosing the state’s next Supreme Court justice – a race that has attracted millions of dollars from interest groups – and picking several other appeals court judges.


Democratic nominee Cherelle Parker and Republican David Oh, former City Council colleagues, are going head-to-head to become the city’s 100th mayor.

Parker emerged victorious from the crowded May primary, besting a handful of other serious contenders, including former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and former City Council member Helen Gym.

She has support from the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, an influential coalition of construction-related labor unions, and President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris endorsed her last week.

Oh, who was unopposed in the GOP primary, is trying to become Philadelphia’s first Republican mayor since the 1950s. In Council, he developed a devoted following among a diverse array of groups, from under-represented immigrant communities to those in the entertainment industry.

Republican mayoral candidate David Oh waves to supporters Monday, Feb. 13, during a campaign launch event at the National Constitution Center.Jack Tomczuk

City Council

Seven at-large seats, for lawmakers representing the entire city, are up for grabs, though voters can only select up to five candidates on the ballot.

Two of the at-large positions are reserved for members of minority parties, which, in Philadelphia, means non-Democrats.

Political observers will be watching closely Tuesday night as two members of the progressive Working Families Party – incumbent Councilmember Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke – battle GOP nominees Drew Murray and Jim Hasher. The two top vote-getters, regardless of party, earn a place at City Hall.

City Councilmember Kendra Brooks speaks Tuesday, Oct. 10, at a rally in support of the Temple Association of University Professionals.Jack Tomczuk

Incumbent Councilmembers Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richards and Jim Harrity, along with newcomers Rue Landau and Nina Ahmad, effectively secured their spot in May’s tight Democratic primary.

The most competitive district council race is in the 10th, based in the Far Northeast, where longtime Councilmember Brian O’Neill is being challenged by Gary Masino, president of Sheet Metal Workers Local 19.

In West Philadelphia’s 3rd District, incumbent Jamie Gauthier is running against third-party candidate Jabari Jones, head of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative business group.

Democrats Mark Squilla (1st District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Curtis Jones Jr. (4th District), Jeffrey “Jay” Young (5th District), Mike Driscoll (6th District), Quetcy M. Lozada (7th District), Cindy Bass (8th District) and Anthony Phillips (9th District) are running unopposed.

Row offices

Philadelphia’s row offices – city commissioner, city controller, register of wills and sheriff – are on the ballot this year.

The three city commissioners oversee elections, and the current trio – Democrats Lisa Deeley and Omar Sabir, and Republican Seth Bluestein – are running unopposed.

Democrat Christy Brady, who was appointed controller after Rhynhart resigned to run for mayor, is facing GOP hopeful Aaron Bashir.

In the register of wills race, Republican Linwood Holland is aiming to upset Democrat John Sabatina, who defeated current Register Tracey Gordon in the May primary.

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal, a Democrat, is running for another term against GOP nominee Mark Lavelle.

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal speaks Monday, Oct. 2, about the looting and unrest. Jack Tomczuk

Statewide judges

More than $17 million has been spent to influence the election of Pennsylvania’s next Supreme Court justice, according to the Associated Press.

Republican Carolyn Carluccio, a Montgomery County judge, and Democrat Daniel McCaffery, who is on the state Superior Court, are vying for the position.

Voters will be deciding between Jill Beck, Timika Lane, Mary Battista and Harry F. Smail Jr. for two spots on the Superior Court. Beck and Lane are Democrats, while Battista and Smail are the GOP candidates.

Megan Martin, a Republican, and Democrat Matt Wolf are facing off for a single position on the Commonwealth Court.

Local judges

Thirteen Democrats – Natasha Taylor-Smith, Tamika Washington, Samantha Williams, Kay Yu, John Padova, Chesley Lightsey, Brian McLaughlin, Damaris Garcia, Caroline Turner, Jessica R. Brown, James J. Eisenhower, Elvin Ross and Raj Sandher – are running for 13 seats on the Court of Common Pleas.

Meanwhile, on the Municipal Court, Democrats Barbara Thomson and Colleen McIntyre Osborne and the GOP’s Rania M. Major are vying for two judicial posts.

Judicial retentions

In addition to the races for open seats, 20 current judges are asking the public to retain them for another 10-year term on the bench. Voters can agree, with a “yes” vote, or select “no” if they would prefer the judge be booted out.

On the statewide Superior Court, Jack Panella and Victor P. Stabile are up for retention.

Locally, Jacqueline F. Allen, Giovanni O. Campbell, Anne Marie Coyle, Ramy I. Djerassi, Joe Fernandes, Holly J. Ford, Timika Lane, J. Scott O’Keefe, Paula A. Patrick, Sierra Thomas Street and Nina Wright Padilla are pursuing additional terms on the Court of Common Pleas.

For Municipal Court, Marissa Brumbach, William A. Meehan Jr., Brad Moss, David C. Shuter, Karen Yvette Simmons, Marvin L. Williams and Matt Wolf are on the ballot.

Ballot question

Only a single question will appear on Tuesday’s ballot for Philadelphia voters: Should the city establish a permanent Office for People with Disabilities?

Such an office has existed since 2017, when Mayor Jim Kenney created it through an executive order. A future mayor could theoretically eliminate it. If the ballot question is approved, the office would be written into the City Charter, which acts as the municipal government’s constitution.

The office currently advocates for those with disabilities and works to make sure city services are accessible and comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.