City Council at-large spots come into focus, 8th district still up in the air

city council
City Councilwoman Cindy Bass speaks at an event in 2020.
Metro file

Dozens of candidates battled in the municipal primary for a place on City Council, and a few races were close, with the outcome of one district contest still too close to call Wednesday.

Seven of the 17 council seats are elected city-wide, and no more than five at-large members can come from one party. In Philadelphia, that usually means five of those seats go to Democrats.

Historically, Republicans filled the two positions reserved for the minority party, but candidates from progressive third parties, such as incumbent Councilmember Kendra Brooks, of the Working Families Party, have in recent years sought to claim those seats.

In the Democratic primary, two incumbents – Isaiah Thomas and Katherine Gilmore Richardson – topped a crowded field of nearly 30 candidates. Both are aiming to be reelected to a second four-year term.

Also advancing to the general election is Rue Landau, who would become the first openly LGBTQ council member. A housing attorney and former head of the city’s human relations and fair housing commissions, she had support from the party establishment and progressive groups.

Unofficial results show Nina Ahmad, a scientist and former deputy mayor for public engagement, in fourth, with just over 6% of the vote.

The fifth and final spot on the ballot may go to Jim Harrity, who is currently serving as an at-large member after being selected by Democratic Party leaders as a nominee in last year’s special election.

Harrity, as of Wednesday, had a lead of around 4,500 votes over Eryn Santamoor, former chief of staff to Councilmember Allan Domb. Not far behind Santamoor were Amanda McIllmurray and Erika Almirón.

On the GOP side, where six at-large candidates were running for five general election ballot spots, party-backed campaigns prevailed.

Frank Cristinzio and Drew Murray led the group, followed by Gary Grisafi, Jim Hasher and Mary Jane Kelley. Sam Oropeza acknowledged his loss and conceded on social media.

Tuesday’s closest council race was in the 8th District, where progressive union organizer Seth Anderson-Oberman challenged incumbent Cindy Bass, who has represented the area since 2012.

On Wednesday, Bass led by a mere 272 votes, with results still pending from a handful of divisions. The district includes Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Germantown and a section of North Philadelphia. For updated results, go to

In the 7th District, based in Kensington, North Philadelphia and the lower Northeast, Quetcy Lozada appears likely to fend off Andrés Celin. She had garnered 60% of the tally through Wednesday.

Lozada previously worked in the office of Maria Quiñones Sánchez, and she won a special election to succeed Sánchez when she resigned to run for mayor.

Anthony Phillips, who replaced Cherelle Parker under the same set of circumstances, looks destined to win a full four-year term in the 9th District. He pulled about 63% of the vote in a race that also included Yvette Young and James Williams.

Democrats Mark Squilla (1st District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Curtis Jones Jr. (4th District), Jeffrey Jay Young Jr. (5th District), and Mike Driscoll (6th District) were unopposed and will not face a GOP opponent in November.

Longtime Republican Councilmember Brian O’Neill (10th District) was not opposed in the primary, but he will be challenged in the general election by Democratic union leader Gary Masino.