Erika Almirón launches supercharged campaign for Philly City Council
Almirón, a lifelong activist and organizer, ran an unsuccessful bid in 2019. She’s not looking for a rerun.
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Commotion rippled at Izlas Latin Cusine on Saturday, Jan. 28, as Erika Almirón launched an at-Large campaign for Philly City Council.
Almirón, a first-generation Paraguayan American, is the second Latina hoping to get her name on the ballot — next to Luz Colón, a Puerto Rican — and her bid will spotlight how both nominees will strategize to galvanize the city’s Latino voters.
“This is very, very real,” Almirón said impromptu before giving her prepared remarks. “The diversity in this room, the beautiful faces in this room. The reason I think I’m glowing right now is because this is what Philadelphia looks like,” she told a crowd of supporters.
Before supporters drowned the room in chants to hear Almirón’s official remarks that would activate the campaign, she had the stage set by District Attorney Larry Krasner, one of the city’s foremost progressive figures, who is often present at Democratic launches.
“You know those politicians that go to one place, and they say one thing, then they get in a car and go to another place and say the opposite? That’s not Erika,” Krasner said, introducing Almirón to the stage.
“Erika’s going to say what she believes. She’s going to say the same thing in every room,” Krasner, who was Almirón’s legal counsel during an arrest, continued.
An organizer first
When Almirón first launched her campaign in 2019, she was christened as a rising underdog in the candidate field. She pushed back against being labeled an activist and preferred the term organizer.
The daughter of Paraguayan immigrants, Almirón seemingly locked into progressive causes — from working at Planned Parenthood out of college in the early 2000s to working as a coordinator at an immigration rights organization and supporting organizing efforts at the border to executive director of Juntos, a South Philly-based immigrants rights group — Almirón had the makings of a revolutionary.
She shifted her organizing work into campaigning, having launched her first elected office bid in 2019, one among a whopping 28 candidates chasing five at-Large seats but fell out of the running in the primary.
Now, Almirón enters another crowded race with 20 candidates, all of whom bring strong resumes, aside from having already collected endorsements and funding. The timing of her launch was also the topic of conversation, placing her in the lower ranks among her running mates.
“She’s absolutely a viable candidate,” said Aria Snedgar, who helms Almirón’s bid as campaign manager. “I think what this campaign launch signaled to me is that Erika has a lot of support from so many different communities. Just looking around the crowd (...), you could see people from all over the city, from different backgrounds. What that showed me is that she has a really diverse coalition of support.”
Almirón has her work cut out for her as she sprints to catch up to the optical frontrunners, whose high-profile backing vibrates in the field.
But she wasn’t focusing on other candidates in her launch. Responding to whether there was any campaign anxiety, Almirón said, “absolutely not.”
“The last time I ran, I got very close because people vote. Not always money votes,” she continued.
In 2019, Almirón won 34,329 votes, placing her 11,141 votes below Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson in the primary.
“I am raising my money, I am going to raise more money than the last campaign, but there are candidates from last time who raised three times what I did, and they didn’t beat me last time,” Almirón said.
The platform, in the meantime, is hyperfocused on the initial logistics to get Almirón’s name in the primary. Remarks delivered by the team included petition dates, fundraising events, as well as community mobilizing.
It is yet to be seen, though, how Philly’s Latino community will cast their votes, given the two Latinas competing in this race. At Colón’s event, held at a Colombian Real Estate Office, she also focused on the pursuit of a diverse coalition while also having the backing of Ángel Ortíz, the first Latino City Councilmember in Philadelphia history.
Ortíz told AL DÍA he’d endorsed Colón for City Council.
A rich ballot
Almirón, in turn, drew a mixed crowd of progressives and moderates — including State Representative Danilo Burgos, Krasner, mayoral candidate María Quiñones Sánchez, and District 7 City Councilmember Quetcy Lozada.
Aside from Burgos, who told the crowd he was all in on the campaign, no further endorsements were announced.
“I think it’s hugely important that folks, particularly the city-wide field, with highly qualified women, that they prepare themselves to run a campaign that goes beyond the Latino community and speak to those constituencies,” said Quiñones Sánchez, whose mayoral campaign is embarking on a similar endeavor.
Quiñones Sánchez added the candidate's efforts would need to be calculated.
“The science behind an at-Large race means you [need] money, you [need] a good ballot position, and you gotta know if you can leverage those relationships that get you to a victory,” she said.
“This has our life’s work,” Quiñones Sánchez concluded. “This campaign, and the ability of the three of us to be on the ballot together, is a historical moment, and I don’t l want to lose track of that.”