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There’s a Dem showdown in West Philly.
There’s a Dem showdown in West Philly. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News

Jabari Jones to challenge Jamie Gauthier for District 3 City Council seat

Jones, the President of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, is running as a moderate Democrat.

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28-year old Jabari Jones is expected to challenge Councilmember Jamie Gauthier for her District 3 City Council seat in 2023. As first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the moderate Democrat is expected to officially announce his run this upcoming Friday, Jan. 27. 

Jones, the President of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative (WPCC), a coalition of businesses and entrepreneurs, is a known figure among the business and entrepreneurial community in his native West Philly with hard views on crime, as well as thinking Gauthier’s housing policy is hurting development. 

Jones’ entry into the race makes it one of the more competitive primaries among the district council races as all 17 City Council seats — 10 geographic district seats, seven at-large — are up for grabs. 

Gauthier most recently announced her re-election campaign on Saturday, Jan. 21, in Cobbs Creek. 

She was joined by a number of supporters, including elected officials including Sen. Nikil Saval, Councilmembers Isaiah Thomas, Kenyatta Johnson, Cindy Bass, District Attorney Larry Krasner, City Commissioner Lisa Deeley, and mayoral candidate Helen Gym, a strong support team that could take her across the finish line. 

Jones’ expected announcement comes as he recently resigned from his position as President of the WPCC. He announced on Friday, Jan. 20, that he would be transferring all power to his Chief Strategist, Diamonique Robinson, effective as of Monday, Jan. 23. 

Despite some wins regarding legislation, Gauthier has had a turbulent few years since first being elected, including navigating through a difficult COVID-19 pandemic, and a significant rise in gun violence, specifically homicides where 2021 and 2022 saw 562 and 516 homicides respectively, with 2021 being the highest on record. 

In the lead up to this expected announcement this Friday, Jones has publicly criticized Gauthier over the last few years, calling out her leftist positions on housing and zoning, and public safety, among others. 

Housing development, public safety and gun violence will undoubtedly be the main issues brought up in the coming months — issues that Gauthier has tried to address during her time on City Council. 

Affordable Housing

At least for affordable housing, Gauthier originally ran a campaign centered on bringing more affordable housing to District 3, which includes University City, Cobbs Creek, Cedar Park, Mantua, and Kingsessing.

One of Gauthier’s chief policies regarding affordable housing drew criticism from Jones and housing developers in December 2021, who said it does not have any incentives for them to build in the neighborhood. 

The legislation, Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning, approved by City Council mandates affordable housing for any new, large residential projects proposed in a huge part of her district. It took effect the Summer of 2022 and is meant to keep low- and middle-income residents from being priced out of their neighborhoods, as has been the case. 

Gun Violence and Public Safety 

The situation regarding public safety reached a new high in June 2020, in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder at the hand of Minneapolis police just a month prior. 

Angry citizens in West Philly demonstrated their anger and civil unrest took its hold as police would come in to tear gas the neighborhood and break up the protests as Gauthier stood on 52nd Street and asked for peace as tear gas was in the air. 

In the time since, Gauthier has said serious issues like the one after George Floyd, especially after occurring in her district, influenced her views on policing and justice. 

In the huge $800 million police budget, she wants Council to fund more investments that provide mental health supports, and create recreation opportunities in neighborhoods most affected by gun violence, and overall, a strong supporter of progressive criminal-justice reform, without including law enforcement, a detail Jones has pushed back on. 

Both her and Jones, will soon have the opportunity to hear each other out and for the latter, could make the District 3 race one of the ones to keep a close eye on in 2023. 

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