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Political banners posted at the corner of Wyoming Ave. and B St. in the 42nd Ward on May 21. Photo: Michelle Myers/AL DÍA News.
Political banners posted at the corner of Wyoming Ave. and B St. in the 42nd Ward on May 21. Photo: Michelle Myers/AL DÍA News.

The disconnect in District 7

District 7 has the lowest voter turnout in Philadelphia. AL DÍA was there on May 21 talking to voters.

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The two names to watch during last Tuesday’s Democratic primary in District 7 were María Quiñones-Sánchez and Angel Cruz. Both were vying for the Democratic nomination and an opportunity to contend for the district’s seat on Philadelphia City Council in November. However, Eve in the 18th Ward couldn’t care less which one of them won.

“I don’t care who wins as long as they do something for the neighborhood,” she said.

Eve lives north of the 18th Ward in Fairhill, but at the direction of a friend, found herself there on May 21 donning the green and yellow of Quiñones-Sánchez’s campaign.

For her, the biggest issue is eradicating the violence from her neighborhood. Eve’s lived in Fairhill for more than 20 years. In that time, she’s seen one of her eight brothers shot and killed and one of her three children locked up. While her seven brothers still inhabit the neighborhood, her two other children now live outside of Philadelphia in San Antonio, Texas for safety reasons.

“Why do you think I don’t want my kids here? Because the streets are crazy,” said Eve.

A Level of Distrust

In her 20 years in the city, Eve’s also seen her fair share of broken promises from District 7’s council members.

“They tell us to vote for them so they can get their money, but nothing changes,” she said.

It’s a dilemma found across District 7. AL DÍA visited seven polling stations.

Jaquetta in the 42nd Ward has campaigned for Quiñones-Sánchez for three years. She supports her because the councilwoman lives close to her block of 6th and Dauphin, but still doesn’t think the members of City Council understand what her neighborhood needs. She doesn’t think she’ll continue campaigning.

“Politicians need to stand by their word,” said Jaquetta.

Marcus Rodriguez in the 31st Ward thinks candidates need to be visible in the neighborhood, not just for support, but also to spread knowledge of the election.

“Most of the people coming to this polling station are here because of door-knocking that happened this morning,” he said.

The Bigger Picture

In addition to disconnected candidates and a lack of knowledge, many people don’t have time to vote because of work, especially during a primary. The combination causes District 7 to have the lowest voter turnout in the city. The 11,655 total votes tallied between Quiñones-Sánchez and Cruz is less than the votes received by each individual winner in districts where there was more than one candidate, and the 6,070 votes received by the victor Quiñones-Sánchez is the least of any district winner regardless of competition.

On the whole, only 23 percent of registered voters actually participated in Philadelphia’s May 21st primary.

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