Feb 1, 2023 - Politics

On the campaign trail: Philly mayor's race and polling place updates

A wall of campaign pins

Campaign pins inside the city's Board of Elections Office in City Hall. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

The city’s municipal election is in full swing as candidates are campaigning ahead of the May primary.

  • So we’ll take a look at the state of the mayor’s race and what’s new at the polls this year.

Democratic candidates pile into mayor’s race

The crowded Democratic field is on track to be the largest since the 1970s.

  • With Mayor Jim Kenney unable to run again due to term limits, the open election has drawn several viable, deep-pocketed candidates.

State of play: At least 10 Democrats are vying to become Philly’s 100th mayor, including five former City Council members, a state legislator, and a supermarket magnate.

  • No Republican has entered the race.

Historic election: Philly has never had a female mayor but several women are running this time around. Cherelle Parker — a former city legislator and member of the powerful Northwest Coalition — is among the top contenders.

What to watch: City unions and organizations are choosing sides.

  • Their endorsements will infuse critical funding and get-out-the-vote efforts that could prove the difference in a typically low-turnout election.
  • The Working Families Party, a progressive third party that has made significant inroads in city politics, endorsed Helen Gym.
  • While AFSCME District 33, Philly’s largest municipal union, has backed grocer Jeff Brown.

Gym’s Union League flub

Gym made an unforced error this week when she attended a gathering at The Union League — only days after she criticized the club for honoring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

State of play: Gym condemned the club last week for giving DeSantis its gold medal, saying she would “always stand against the racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and the bigotry” that the club decided to honor.

  • Yes, but: On Monday she was seen schmoozing at an annual meeting at the club, which ignited a social media firestorm.

The result: Gym quickly apologized, saying attending the meeting was a mistake.

New at the polls

The city will roll out electronic poll books for the first time during the May primary.

Why it matters: The new electronic books will speed up the check-in process for voters and poll workers, Nick Custodio, a spokesperson for City Commissioner Lisa Deeley, told Axios.

  • The electronic poll book technology will reduce human error, confirm a voter’s correct polling place, and inform poll workers whether a voter was issued a mail-in ballot.

How it works: Rather than signing into the polls on a large paper poll book, voters will instead sign an electronic tablet.

  • Municipalities across the country have used electronic poll books for years.

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