A trio of candidates filed petitions to enter the Philadelphia mayoral race before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline, while nine did the same for various City Council races.
While one — Germantown newspaper publisher James Foster — signaled his intentions to run an independent candidate late last month, another pair of would-be mayors filed signatures with the County Board of Elections.
Joining Foster, Democrat Jim Kenney and Republican Melissa Murray Bailey in the field are Osborne Hart, a Socialist Workers Party candidate who lives in Germantown, and Boris Kindij, an independent from Center City.
While Kindij didn’t want to discuss his candidacy until he learns whether he’ll face a petition challenge — “It’ll take about a week; we’ll see what’s going to happen” — both Hart and Foster spoke with NinetyNine after filing at City Hall.
Hart, a 63-year-old who has sought office several times before, said he’s running on behalf of the working people whom he said aren’t properly represented in the modern-day political sphere.
He cited minimum wage, police brutality and international economic woes as his primary issues.
“Working people should have a voice in the election, especially with what’s been going on in society and what politics have grown into,” he said during an afternoon phone interview. “In our campaign, we are citizens of the world. We’re for a labor party to advance activities and the interests regarding a living wage and universal unconditional health care.
“We want to give voice to working people, independent of the [Democratic and Republican] parties. There’s a growing movement. Ultimately what has to happen is working people have to be in power, and it’s going to take a revolution for that to happen.”
Asked whether he thought he could win the race, Hart answered affirmatively, on behalf of himself and Socialist Party Council at-large candidate John Staggs.
“If we don’t win,” he said, “working people lose.”
Foster, the 72-year-old publisher of The Independent Voice newspaper, explained what led to his later-in-the-game decision to enter the mayoral fray.
“This was kind of a last-minute decision. Although I’ve run for public office before as an independent, I wasn’t originally planning to do this one,” said Foster, who was spurred on by the decisions of Sam Katz and Bill Green not to run.
“The fact that both of them could have been independent candidates at least would have been stirring the pot with people who were informed and could speak with real credibility about what they thought the city needed,” he continued. “They have maverick personalities, and that works when an independent is trying to raise issues and convince people you’re not part of the machinery.”
While he professes limited insight on Kenney’s candidacy, he said he wished the Republicans picked an established candidate for the race.
“The disease is in the bones. Philadelphia is run by distraction politics,” said Foster, who has railed against perceived governmental misdeeds via his column in his community newspaper. “It’s one big dog-and-pony circus show of deception.
“You had a primary election heavily financed by people from outside the city and run by the unions. That’s not my idea of democracy in action. I was stimulated to make this decision because I didn’t think the voters of Philadelphia had a choice and, when I run, they will.”
Does Foster think he can win?
“You know what? It’s not impossible. It’s not impossible,” he said. “There are examples of situations like this happening before.”
Beyond the mayor’s race
Several candidates filed for non-mayoral races, as well.
They were Sheila Armstrong (Council at-large, independent); Kristin Combs (Council at-large, Green Party); Bobby T. Curry (9th District City Council, independent); Glenn C. Davis (city commissioner, Green Party); Michael Galganski (8th District Council, Free Dominion Political Party); John Staggs (Council-at-large, Socialist Workers Party); Andrew Stober (Council at-large, Philadelphia party); and Leah Wright (5th District Council, Free Dominion Political Party).