Debate Monday, and a new contender for Council president

    Philadelphia is having a municipal election Nov. 8, and there are a few competitve races.

    One of them is among the contest among five Republican City Council-at-large candidates who are effectively competing for two open spots on Council (technically more than one could win, like technically the Phillies could ask me to play first base next year).

    You can hear those five candidates in a debate moderated by yours truly this coming Monday, Oct. 17. The debate will also include the five incumbent Democratic members, who aren’t really competing for anything, except who gets the most votes.

    If you’re new to this, the city charter lets each party nominate five candidates, every voter votes for up to five, and the top seven-vote getters go to Council. For 60 years, that’s meant we have five Democratic and two Republican Council-at-large members.

    The debate will be held at our WHYY studios and is open to the public. The time is 7 p.m., and the address is 150 N. 6th Street, Philadelphia.

    The Council debate will be followed by a debate among the four candidates for City Commissioner, the office that runs elections in the city. There are some interesting candidates and issues in this race. Check this piece by veteran reporter Bob Warner of the Inquirer for some background.

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    Earlier this week, I ran a radio and web piece about the rift between Mayor Nutter and City Councilman Jim Kenney, who was Nutter’s closest friend and ally on Council when his administration began.

    I’m now hearing more about a prospect which was whispered a few weeks ago: Kenney might seek the presidency of City Council when the body organizes in January.

    The president will be chosen by the 17 council members elected in November, and it’s not clear that either of the two previously-discussed candidates, Marian Tasco and Darrell Clarke have a clear path to victory,

    Kenney won’t comment on the notion, but there’s buzz that Kenney could offer himself as a third way.

    The really interesting aspect of this scenario is that to get elected Kenney would likely need the help of electricians’ union leader John Dougherty, an adversary of Kenney for years.

    This bears watching.

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    Finally, I loved the piece by Holly Otterbein of the It’s Our Money project about local candidates for office ignoring fines they owe for campaign finance reporting violations.

    For years we’ve had a state election code that nobody (especially the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office) took any responsibility for enforcing.

    Otterbein’s reporting on what the current DA is and isn’t up to is worth reading. At least Holly got one Council member to cough up $1,000. You can find her story here.

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