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Both Mayor Jim Kenney and at-large third party candidate Kendra Brooks claimed victory on Nov. 5. Photos: LEFT: Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer. RIGHT: Emily Neil/AL DÍA News.
Both Mayor Jim Kenney and at-large third party candidate Kendra Brooks claimed victory on Nov. 5. Photos: LEFT: Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer. RIGHT: Emily Neil/AL DÍA News.

Philadelphia General Election 2019 Rundown: A major upset in City Council and a second term for Kenney

The election on November 5, 2019 will go down in Philadelphia history because of Kendra Brooks, but what else happened with City Council?

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Going into Nov. 5’s general election in Philadelphia, many Districts and offices already had their elected leaders after May’s city primary. But that’s not to say there wasn’t anything to vote for, and Philadelphia showed it.

With a turnout of over 265,00030,000 more than the last citywide elections in 2015 — Philadelphians not only came out strong in support of a second term for Mayor Jim Kenney, but also spawned an upset that will go down in the city’s history. 

That upset was in favor of at-large City Council candidate Kendra Brooks of the Working Families Party. She won the most votes of any candidate not a Democrat and will assume Republican Al Taubenberger’s seat on City Council in January.

While May was the time for celebration for Jamie Gauthier in District 3 and Rochelle Bilal in the Sheriff’s Office, November was the time for Brooks.

Here’s a rundown of all that happened:

A second term for Kenney

Philadelphia has not had a Republican Mayor since Bernard Samuel in 1947, and this election was no exception. 

In a heavily-Democratic city, the incumbent’s victory was foreseen since the May primary and Kenney didn't fail to deliver, winning 80.03% of the vote compared to his Republican counterpart, Billy Ciancaglini. The Mayor did not run a reelection campaign in preparation.

Under his administration, Kenney drew national attention by challenging the federal government’s attempt to eliminate funding over Philly’s sanctuary city status. 

The ex-councilmember also instituted a controversial soda tax to fund pre-K programs for all children in Philadelphia. He also decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and supports the creation of supervised injection sites.

However, his first term was also shaken by rising homicide, gun violence, the Hahnemann Hospital shutdown, and the South Philadelphia Refinery explosion and subsequent closure that left nearly 300 city workers unemployed. 

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the mayor is considering a run for governor. The sources agree that Kenney is "definitely entertaining the idea right now," but remain skeptical. 

Should Philadelphia’s mayor resign to pursue another office, the president of City Council — Darrell Clarke — would become the mayor.

 
Kendra Brooks goes down in history

“They said a black single mom from North Philly wasn’t the right person, but we have shown them that we are bigger than them.”

This was Brooks at the Working Families Party election party right after declaring victory for one of City Council’s minority party at-large seats. 

When she assumes office in January, she will be the first independent council member in modern Philadelphia history — when Philly implemented its home charter 70 years ago.

The goal of her and Nicolas O’Rourke’s campaign under the Working Families Party banner was to claim both Republican at-large seats on City Council and it received attention from big players on the national and local stage. 

It also raised more than $250,000, but behind all the publicity and money was her ability to mobilize the city’s black vote, which came out in strength in her favor.

The other at-large minority seat remained Republican, but not the candidate the city's Republican Party wanted. David Oh finished behind Brooks’ approximately 55,000 votes with 49,000 and will enter his third term on City Council.

At his victory party, Oh credited the diversity of his support system for the victory.

On the Democratic side of things, Helen Gym once again took home the most votes of any at-large candidate, followed by newcomer Isaiah Thomas. The other newcomer is Katherine Gilmore-Richardson and rounding out the group is incumbents Derek Green and Allan Domb.

District Results
 

 

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