Oct 27, 2022 - Politics

Philly Voter Guide: Meet the candidates running for 2 at-large seats

A blurry Philadelphia City Hall with a red and blue background in the back.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

All Philly voters have a chance to elect two at-large City Council seats during this Nov. 8 election.

Why it matters: The special elections are part of a major shakeup on the council.

  • The two races β€” combined with a pair of individual district races β€” will bring four new faces to the 17-member legislature.
  • A slew of challenges will confront the winners, including higher levels of gun violence, the opioid epidemic and an affordable housing crisis.

Between the lines: The new at-large lawmakers will complete the current term, which goes through 2023, leaving little time before having to defend their seats in next year's election.

  • But they will have the advantage of campaigning as incumbents.

Be smart: In an overwhelmingly blue city, Democrats are expected to maintain their hold on the seats.

The bottom line: Go vote by Nov. 8.

✍️ Scroll down to see how the candidates answered our 2022 Election Axios Philly questionnaire.

πŸ‘‹ Meet the candidates
Photo illustration of Jimmy Harrity tinted blue, and Drew Murray, tinted red, separated by a white halftone divider.
Jim Harrity and Drew Murray. Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Harrity and Murray campaigns.

Here's who's running in Special Election 1:

Democrat: Jim Harrity, 50, lives in Kensington. He's the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's political director and a former staffer to state Sen. Sharif Street.

Republican: Drew Murray, 50, lives in Logan Square. A former Democrat, Murray is a sales manager for a storage-system firm who was formerly president of the Logan Square Civic Association.

Libertarian: Poetica Bey didn't return our requests to participate.

πŸ’­ Let the Q&A begin...
Illustration of a man placing a vote sticker on his shirt.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

All candidates were invited to complete the following Q&A. Answers have been lightly edited by Axios for style and brevity. Candidates are in the order they appear on the ballot.

What is one way you would improve city services for constituents, in one sentence?

Harrity: I would have public hearings on Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Murray: I will look at all departments and city services and determine whether current leadership is performing to the level that Philadelphians deserve.

Sum up one major inequality in Philly and how you would address it, in one sentence.

Harrity: 🏫 Our schools: I would start with building new schools to give our kids a sense of pride.

Murray: πŸ“š Education: Philadelphia parents deserve more school choice so that ZIP code does not determine whether a student gets a quality education.

Philly remains the poorest big city in the U.S. What is one big idea to lower poverty, in one sentence?

Harrity: πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸ’» I would try to attract new technology and bio-industries to Philadelphia.

Murray: πŸ’° I will work to lower the tax burden to attract businesses, consequently resulting in high paying jobs.

The police department's budget grew to $788 million this year. You would want to increase the budget (⬆️), keep the current budget level (⏸️), or decrease the budget (⬇️)?

Harrity: ⬆️

Murray: ⬆️

Homicides spiked to an all-time record in 2021 and remain at high levels this year. Sum up your solution to reducing violence, in one sentence.

Harrity: We need to invest in modern forms of law enforcement, as in more cameras, drones, and more training for new officers.

Murray: I would demand that the District Attorney's Office prosecute crimes at all levels so that minor crimes do not lead to major crimes, violence and murder.

Philly is spending more than $200 million on anti-violence efforts this year. That funding is not enough (🀏), adequate (πŸ‘), or too much (βœ‹)?

Harrity: 🀏

Murray: πŸ‘

Sum up how you would help promote affordable housing in Philly, in one sentence.

Harrity: 🏘 I would use land in the Philadelphia Land Bank to build more affordable housing.

Murray: πŸ— I would support development to increase the supply of units on the market, consequently leading to more affordable housing.

Name 1 big thing you will accomplish in your first year, in 15 words or less.

Harrity: I would like to clean up the Kensington area of the city for starters.

Murray: Spur economic development by enacting legislation that reduces the tax burden to residents and businesses.

Summarize the city of Philadelphia in five words or less.

Harrity: In need of repairs.

Murray: City of neighborhoods and sports.

🀝 And now for the second at-large race
Photo illustration of Sharon Vaughn tinted blue, Marc Jurchak tinted gold, and Jim Hasher tinted red, separated by white halftone dividers.
From left to right, Sharon Vaughn, Marc Jurchak and Jim Hasher. Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Vaughn, Jurchak and Hasher campaigns.

Meet the candidates vying for the seat:

Democrat: Sharon Vaughn, 58, lives in Feltonville. She's the former chief of staff for ex-Councilmember Derek Green, the latter of whom resigned in September. Her career in City Hall has spanned three decades working for councilmembers from the Northwest.

Republican: Jim Hasher, 59, lives in Torresdale. He owns a real estate business and sports bar in Northeast Philly.

Libertarian: Marc Jurchak, 32, lives in South Philly. He's an engineer and Temple University grad. He also serves as the Libertarian Party of Philadelphia's chairperson.

πŸ“ On to the questions...
Question marks turn into check marks on ballot answer squares.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

What is one way you would improve city services for constituents, in one sentence?

Vaughn: I would make an attempt to get results or respond to constituents within 24 hours.

Hasher: We can make city services more transparent for users and constituents alike to make for a more effective, user-friendly process.

Jurchak: Abolish the Parking Authority.

Sum up one major inequality in Philly and how you would address it, in one sentence.

Vaughn: πŸ’Ό The major inequality is that brown and Black constituents don't have the opportunities to get into union paid jobs because of lack of skills so I plan to meet with many Philadelphia unions to request jobs and training opportunities.

Hasher: 🏫 Our city's youth needs to be invested in at all costs, making sure schools are properly funded and youth organizations are open in every area of the city to keep children and young adults involved, educated and safe.

Jurchak: 🏠 Quality of housing and apartments β€” I would reduce property taxes, so rents and mortgages are more affordable.

Philly remains the poorest big city in the U.S. What is one big idea to lower poverty, in one sentence?

Vaughn: Provide trades and training opportunities to youth.

Hasher: Increasing infrastructure and focusing on bringing businesses into Philadelphia is a top priority.

Jurchak: Remove the minimum wage so people with no skills have a chance to acquire them, and I would promote trades.

The police department's budget grew to $788 million this year. You would want to increase the budget (⬆️), keep the current budget level (⏸️), or decrease the budget (⬇️)?

Vaughn: ⬆️

Hasher: ⬆️

Jurchak: ⏸️

Homicides spiked to an all-time record in 2021 and remain at high levels this year. Sum up your solution to reducing violence, in one sentence.

Vaughn: Enforcement against illegal gun purchases, freeze bullet purchases.

Hasher: There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this city's crime issue, but I believe the first step to this solution is to put confidence back into our police officers and stand behind them in this crisis.

Jurchak: Allow the police to do their jobs.

Philly is spending more than $200 million on anti-violence efforts this year. That funding is not enough (🀏), adequate (πŸ‘), or too much (βœ‹)?

Vaughn: πŸ‘

Hasher: 🀏

Jurchak: πŸ‘

Sum up how you would help promote affordable housing in Philly, in one sentence.

Vaughn: 🏚 Fix many abandoned properties for low-income purchases.

Hasher: πŸ’° I would support eliminating the city's real estate transfer tax for first time homebuyers.

Jurchak: πŸ’΅ Abolish property taxes.

Name 1 big thing you will accomplish in your first year, in 15 words or less.

Vaughn: Make sure people know that I care about our city being a safe environment.

Hasher: I will make a strong impact on the opioid epidemic that is taking over our city.

Jurchak: Remove the city wage tax.

Summarize the city of Philadelphia in five words or less.

Vaughn: A great place to live.

Hasher: Historic, full of potential, adaptable.

Jurchak: The best people on earth.

πŸŽ‰ What is 1 fun thing voters don't know about you?
Illustration of a white shrug emoji over a divided blue and red background with elements of ballots.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Harrity: 🀝 I enjoy helping people.

Murray: πŸ₯² I cry during some movies.

Vaughn: πŸ˜‚ I love to laugh, it's like medicine for me.

Hasher: πŸ₯Š I am a former boxer and a father of five boys.

Jurchak: 😷 I never wore a mask during the lockdown.

Go deeper: Read our guide for how to vote in Philly

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