Two City Councilmembers resigned Tuesday and launched campaigns to succeed Jim Kenney as Philadelphia’s next mayor.
Maria Quiñones Sánchez, who represented Kensington and parts of North and Northeast Philadelphia, and at-large member Derek Green, became the first to enter the highly-anticipated 2023 Democratic primary.
Other colleagues are expected to join the race, including Allan Domb, who continues to explore a run after stepping down from his post as an at-large councilperson last month.
Green, who joined Council in 2016, touted his role in the city’s most recent budget deal, saying he was the architect behind cuts to the wage and business taxes.
“I think that too often Philadelphians have been told they’ve got to choose between public safety or criminal justice reform, between reducing taxes or providing city services,” Green, of Mount Airy, said during an interview Tuesday.
On her campaign website, Quiñones Sánchez, who lives in the Norris Square neighborhood, highlights her 14 years on Council, boasting that she has sponsored more than 400 pieces of legislation.
“I think my legislative record, my personal lived experience is going to resonate with the majority of Philadelphians,” Quiñones Sánchez told Metro.
Her work at City Hall “has more depth, more breadth and has more impact on improving people’s quality of life” than that of other Councilmembers contemplating runs, she added.
Philadelphia’s gun violence — and how to reduce the record shooting and homicide numbers — is likely to be the top priority in the mayor’s race. A survey released in the spring found that 70% of city residents named crime, public safety and drugs as their No. 1 issue.
Green said he intends to lay out a plan to allow people to “put down a gun and pick up a paycheck” during a campaign kickoff event Wednesday in West Philadelphia. Prior to running for office, he served as an assistant district attorney and city solicitor.
Kenney has expressed frustration at the state legislature’s refusal to allow the city to enact tougher gun laws, a reality Quiñones Sánchez noted.
“We don’t have the ability to control guns but we have the ability to impact folks who are involved in this,” she said. “We know who the next shooter and who the next victim is going to be.”
Quiñones Sánchez has clashed with the Kenney administration on its handling of the opioid and homelessness crisis in Kensington. Open-air drug use and prostitution cannot be allowed in the neighborhood, and users from outside the city need to be sent home for treatment, she said.
Green and Quiñones Sánchez both entered local politics by working for longtime Councilmember Marian Tasco.
Three seats empty, with more likely
When Council meets for its first session of the fall on Sept. 15, there will be at least three vacancies — and likely more, with multiple other members rumored to be entering the race. Philadelphia has a resign-to-run rule.
The timeline for filling those seats is up to Council President Darrell Clarke, who has not yet called for a special election, which would almost certainly coincide with November’s general election or next spring’s primary.
If he wants to hold it in November, Clarke has a month-long window to declare the special election, from about Sept. 8 until 30 days before Election Day.
There is already interest. Over the weekend, Terrill Haigler, a 33-year-old former sanitation worker known on social media as “Ya Fav Trashman,” announced he plans to run for City Council at-large.