Joseph Galzerano recently had a gun pulled on him over a spot in a grocery store parking lot, and he is now afraid to attend services at his church.
“I think the city needs to improve on the crime that’s been going on,” Galzerano told Metro after voting Tuesday at Torresdale Boys Club.
Public safety remained the top issue for many Philadelphians as they headed to the polls on Election Day to vote for their next mayor, City Council members, row officers and a host of statewide and local judges.
“We never had the crime that we see now, especially with Temple being so close to us,” said Henry Oliver, who voted at Penrose Playground in North Philadelphia. “But now, it’s bad.”
After casting his ballot at Marian Anderson Neighborhood Academy, formerly Chester A. Arthur Elementary, in the Graduate Hospital section of South Philadelphia, Roy Blanchard said he appreciates Democratic mayoral nominee Cherelle Parker’s intention to put more police officers on the street.
“Safe streets and low taxes are what we all want,” Laura Blanchard, his wife, added.
Theresa Farrell, who described herself as a Kensington block captain, community leader and evangelist, said she supported Parker’s opponent and former City Council colleague, Republican David Oh, because he was one of the few elected officials to show interest in the neighborhood’s problems.
“He cares for Kensington,” she said, after voting at Jules E. Mastbaum High School. “He’s been standing by our side through thick and thin.”
Parker, if elected, would become the city’s first female mayor, while Oh is hoping to pull a major upset and be the first Republican in the position in 70 years.
Supporters clapped for Parker as she arrived to a rally Tuesday morning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 21 hall in the Far Northeast.
She was joined by leaders from construction trade unions, which have helped power her campaign, and fellow Democratic candidates, including City Council hopeful Gary Masino and state Supreme Court nominee Dan McCaffery – both of whom were expected to be involved in competitive contests of their own.
Parker spoke about how she refused advice from political experts to alter her message based on her audience, and she expressed a desire to unify the local Democratic Party.
“I want us to get in rooms like this and fight, have our regional fights,” she said. “Don’t let any press in the door. Make everybody turns off their phones, so nobody’s recording what’s going on. And we hash it out. But when we walk out that door, as my grandmother would say, nobody is supposed to know what’s going on in our house.”
In addition to the mayor’s race, the contest for the two City Council at-large seats reserved for minority party members will be closely watched. GOP candidates Jim Hasher and Drew Murray are running against incumbent Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke, both of the Working Families Party. The top two vote-getters of the four will be elected.
Masino is challenging longtime Republican Councilmember Brian O’Neil in the 10th council district, based in the Far Northeast. McCaffery is involved in an expensive Pennsylvania Supreme Court race with Republican Carolyn Carluccio, and there are also competitive contests for seats on the Commonwealth and Superior courts.
Polls closed Tuesday after Metro went to print. Municipal election results will be posted at vote.phila.gov/results, and information on statewide judicial races can be found at electionreturns.pa.gov. Check metrophiladelphia.com for updated coverage.
Though turnout is typically low in Philadelphia during non-presidential elections, voters who ventured to the polls Tuesday said they felt it was important to have their voices heard.
“There are a lot of judges on the ballot,” Louis Prahl, of Graduate Hospital, said. “It determines a significant amount of what’s going on in the city, what’s going on in the state.”
In addition to crime, multiple voters expressed concerns about abortion rights. Access to the procedure has been curtailed in other states since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade ruling last year; however, no changes have been made to Pennsylvania law.
“I have daughters and nieces,” North Philadelphia resident Charles Walker told Metro. “People who don’t want kids should have the right not to.”
Party loyalties were important to some. Anne Pritz, of Torresdale, said she is nervous about the potential resurgence of former President Donald Trump. “I’m kind of scared about the state of everything,” she told Metro.
In-person voting appeared to be going smoothly, with the District Attorney’s Election Task Force investigating about a dozen complaints, mostly for electioneering, as of Tuesday afternoon.