Working Families sweeps minority party at-large, other local election results

Working Families election philadelphia
The Rev. Nicolas O’Rourke, of the Working Families Party, speaks Monday, April 18, 2022, during a protest outside the Comcast Center.
Metro file

The progressive Working Families Party has claimed the two City Council at-large seats reserved for non-Democrats, with victories Tuesday for Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke.

Brooks, an incumbent, and O’Rourke campaigned to kick Republicans out of City Hall and encouraged voters to select them along with up to three Democrats, all five of whom were expected to be easily elected. The pair finished ahead of the GOP at-large slate, Jim Hasher and Drew Murray.

“We just left the Republican Party to the dustbin of history by running on a positive vision for Philadelphia,” said O’Rourke, pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ in Oxford Circle, in a statement.

At-large members represent the entire city, and two of the seven slots are designated for those belonging to minority parties. Before Brooks was elected in 2019, Republicans occupied the seats. One of the two minority party spots has been empty since the GOP’s David Oh resigned in February to launch his unsuccessful mayoral bid.

“Philadelphia is officially a two-party town,” said WFP National Director Maurice Mitchell. “But it’s not the Republicans and Democrats, it’s the Working Families Party and the Democrats.”

Murray conceded in a post on X, formerly Twitter, saying that “My team and I could not have worked harder.” Hasher’s campaign and the Philadelphia GOP did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Working families party
Councilmember Kendra Brooks was reelected to a second term Tuesday.Metro file

O’Rourke earned about 4,800 more votes than Hasher, who garnered several hundred more than Murray, according to unofficial results from the City Commissioners. Brooks topped all three, with nearly 75,000 total votes.

Brooks and O’Rourke, along with 3rd District Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, will likely form Council’s progressive bloc in the new year.

The five Democrats in the at-large race – incumbents Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Jim Harrity, and newcomers Nina Ahmad and Rue Landau – cruised to victory.

Ahmad will become Council’s first South Asian member, while Landau is going to be the city’s first openly LGBTQ lawmaker.

Councilmember Brian O’Neill, first elected in 1979, received 61% of the vote, fending off a challenge from Democratic union leader Brian Masino in the 10th District, based in the Far Northeast. O’Neill will remain Council’s only Republican.

In the only other contested Council race, in West Philadelphia’s 3rd District, incumbent Jamie Gauthier crushed third-party candidate Jabari Jones.

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) were elected without opposition.

Row officers

Democrats predictably swept Philadelphia’s row offices.

Eighty percent of voters chose Christy Brady for city controller over Republican Aaron Bashir. Brady is a longtime employee of the office who previously served as acting controller when Rebecca Rhynhart resigned to run for mayor.

Attorney John Sabatina, who defeated current Register of Wills Tracey Gordon in the May primary with local Democratic Party backing, was elected over Republican register nominee Linwood Holland.

Sheriff Rochelle Bilal will serve a second term after handily defeating challenger Mark Lavelle.

All three incumbent City Commissioners – Democrats Lisa Deeley and Omar Sabir, and Republican Seth Bluestein – were reelected. Mayor Jim Kenney nominated Bluestein after former GOP City Commissioner Al Schmidt stepped down last year.

City Commissioner Lisa Deeley and Omar Sabir ran unopposed Tuesday. Metro file

Local judges

In the Court of Common Pleas, 13 unopposed 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 – were elected to serve as judges.

Democrats Barbara Thomson and Colleen McIntyre Osborne beat out Republican Rania M. Major for two seats in Municipal Court.

All Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court judges up for retention won additional 10-year terms.

Ballot question

Philadelphia voters, by a margin of 86% to 14%, approved a measure establishing a permanent city Office for People with Disabilities, according to the unofficial results.

Kenney created the office, which advocates for greater accessibility, through an executive order in 2017. The ballot question enshrines the office into the City Charter, which acts as the municipal government’s constitution.