Phila. Council At Large

    armstrong

    Sheila Armstrong (I)

    Need to Know

    Armstrong and her two sons were plaintiffs in the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia’s lawsuit against the state over Pennsylvania’s allegedly inequitable school funding formula.
    DIVAS Ministries recently honored Armstrong as an outspoken advocate for domestic violence victims.
    POWER awarded Armstrong its Father George Moore Award for her advocacy on behalf of state-level education funding formula reform.

    Bio

    Sheila Armstrong is a lifelong Philadelphian who resides in North Philadelphia. A single mother of two boys, she’s a member of PA State Parent Advisory Council. After dropping out of high school in 1992, Armstrong earned her GED in 2000. She then studied business at Community College of Philadelphia, earned an MS in business administration from the University of Phoenix in 2013 and opened a cleaning, event-planning and motivational-speaking company in 2014. Armstrong is the author of “Don’t Let Your Past Be Your Hindrance.”


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    Brown

    Blondell Reynolds Brown (D)

    Need to Know

    Elected in 1999, serves as City Council’s Majority Whip and chairs the Committee on the Environment.
    Formerly a professional dancer.
    Fined by the Ethics Board in 2013 for borrowing money from her own campaign fund.
    Incumbent

    Bio

    Blondell Reynolds Brown, 62, has served on City Council since 2000. She is Council’s Majority Whip, and chairs the committee on the environment. Reynolds Brown recently sponsored an expansion of a tax credit for green-roof construction and a bill requiring energy benchmarking at commercial buildings. Another of her proposals would make the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs a permanent part of the government. Reynolds Brown, a former dancer, was fined by the Ethics Board in 2013 for borrowing money from her own campaign fund in order to pay a personal debt.


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    combs

    Kristin Combs (Green Party)

    Need to Know

    Opposes spending public money on charter schools without more public accountability.
    Supports a $15 minimum wage and more liberal union organizing rules.
    Supports more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, “accessible alternatives to car traffic,” and a Vision Zero approach to pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

    Bio

    Kristin Combs, 28, is a Port Richmond-based public-school teacher in the School District of Philadelphia with a master’s in secondary education from University of Pennsylvania. She is committed to ensuring that every child has access to a meaningful public education. Combs teaches at Penn Treaty School, but in 2013 was at Vaux High School when it was one of 23 Philadelphia public schools closed by the School Reform Commission. She also volunteers with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, a non-profit working to uphold the human rights of all people regardless of color, creed, sexual identity or socioeconomic status. And she sings with the A Cappella Project – Philadelphia, a non-profit dedicated to arts promotion and education.


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    Domb

    Allan Domb (D)

    Need to Know

    Known locally as the “Condo King,” for selling high-end apartments around the city.
    President of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors.
    Favors extending property-tax abatements on lower-value home sales and repairs.
    Challenger

    Bio

    With a background in business and finance, Allan Domb, 59, has become an influential real estate broker and developer in Philadelphia. Graduating in 1977 with a degree in finance and financial management services from American University, he founded Allan Domb Real Estate in 1980. As the firm’s president, Domb manages luxury condo sales in buildings like the Barclay, the Dorchester, the Philadelphian, Society Hill Towers and Wanamaker House. He is the president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors and currently serves on the boards of the Center City District, the Starr Restaurant Organization, and the Friends of Rittenhouse Square.


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    Green

    Derek Green (D)

    Need to Know

    Worked as a top adviser to Councilwoman Marian Tasco for more than ten years.
    Democratic Committeeman in the 22nd Ward.
    Worked as deputy city solicitor in Philadelphia and assistant deputy attorney general in Delaware.
    Challenger

    Bio

    Derek Green, 44, the longtime special counsel to City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, has extensive government legal experience. Prior to joining Tasco’s staff, Green was a deputy city solicitor and an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, and an assistant deputy attorney general in Delaware. He also ran for City Council in 2007. A Mount Airy resident, Green has had leadership roles in East Mount Airy Neighbors, Inc., the Center in the Park, Mt. Airy USA CDC and the Green Tree School. He’s a graduate of the University of Virginia and Temple University School of Law. Green and his wife, Sheila, are parents of a son, Julian.


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    Greenlee

    William K. Greenlee (D)

    Need to Know

    Prime sponsor of an earned-paid sick leave bill for Philadelphia, which finally garnered the votes to pass in 2015. Helped pass anti-discrimination legislation at city level for LGBT individuals, pregnant women, and domestic violence victims.
    A biking skeptic; helped pass a bill in 2012 requiring a City Council ordinance for most new bike lanes, and holding up a bike lane planned for 22nd Street.
    Chief of staff to the late Councilman David Cohen; long history of civic activity in 15th ward and the Fairmount Civic Association. Often introduces bills for Council President Darrell Clarke, because presidents cannot introduce bills.
    Incumbent

    Bio

    Councilman William Greenlee, 62, is a lifelong resident of the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Prep and Temple University. He and his wife Leslie, a teacher, have been married for over 25 years. In 1980, he began a 26-year career working as chief aide to City Councilman David Cohen, providing constituent services and working on legislative issues. He was elected to City Council in 2006. Championing earned paid sick leave in Philadelphia is one of Councilman Greenlee’s most recent legislative accomplishments. Greenlee also introduced a bill protecting the rights of pregnant workers and women who are nursing. Councilman Greenlee was the sponsor of legislation to overhaul the Fair Practices ordinance, which is the City’s Civil Rights Legislation. The Ordinance prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. The update of the law expands the protected classes of citizens to include domestic violence victims, the disabled and the LGBT community.


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    Gym

    Helen Gym (D)

    Need to Know

    Highest-profile public school advocate, strongly backing increased funding, co-founder of the Public School Notebook and the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures charter school.
    Board member of Asian Americans United, a community organization active in education, youth leadership, immigrant rights and community development.
    Early supporter of the Vision Zero street safety campaign, which calls on candidates to commit to reducing Philly’s pedestrian traffic injuries by half before 2020 through traffic calming measures like road diets and protected bike lanes, and stepped-up traffic enforcement.
    Challenger

    Bio

    A one-time Philadelphia elementary-school teacher, Helen Gym, 47, is a co-founder of Parents United for Public Education, a citywide organization focused on school budgets and funding to improve achievement and accountability in the public schools. She’s also an editorial-board member of Rethinking Schools, a national social justice teaching journal; and a co-founder of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook and the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School. And she’s a board member of Asian Americans United, a community organization active in education, youth leadership, immigrant rights and community development. Gym is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.


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    O'Brien

    Dennis O’Brien (R)

    Need to Know

    In 2007, O’Brien as elected first ever minority-party Speaker of the Pennsylvania House.
    Passed bill creating inventory and inspection protocol for large, abandoned properties following warehouse fire that killed two firemen.
    Councilman O’Brien passed legislation replacing the words “mental retardation” in the Philadelphia Code, with “intellectual disability.”
    Incumbent

    Bio

    Councilman Dennis O’Brien, 62, was elected to Council in 2012 after serving as a State Representative for over 30 years. O’Brien has introduced and passed bills protecting immigrants from notario fraud, and allowing restaurants to compost as a form of recycling. O’Brien led Council’s opposition to Nutter’s plan to award one firm a contract for all conflict counsel for representing the indigent. O’Brien launched the Philadelphia Autism Project, a citywide taskforce on services and supports for individuals with autism in Philadelphia.


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    Oh

    David Oh (R)

    Need to Know

    First Asian-American elected to political office in Philadelphia
    The only member of council with military experience; served in the Maryland National Guard from 1988 to 1991.
    Created a tax credit ($15,000 over 3 years) for employers who hire returning veterans
    Incumbent

    Bio

    David Oh, 55, was elected in 2011 after narrowly defeating Al Taubenberger; Oh had previously ran unsuccessfully for his seat in 2007 and 2003. As Councilman, Oh has promoted trade and sought overseas investment, particularly in Asia. Oh also launched a music competition called PHL Live Center Stage. A former assistant district attorney, Oh graduated from Dickinson College and Rutgers University Law School-Camden.


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    staggs

    John Staggs (Socialist Workers Party)

    Need to Know

    Succeeded in getting state of Pennsylvania to stop requiring loyalty oaths from candidates in 2006.
    Enthusiastic defender of the Americans with Disabilities Act and expanding access for people with disabilities.
    Opposes trend of employers increasingly classifying full-time workers as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits or complying with other labor laws.

    Bio

    John Staggs, 68, was born in Illinois and worked on a farm there. Currently a Walmart cashier and a supporter of the fight for a union, Staggs has been using his Council campaign to support Verizon workers and ATI steelworkers in their contract fights. Staggs is also an opponent of U.S. wars he calls imperialist — in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere – and he supports the revolutionary government in Cuba as an example for all working people. Staggs marched in the Philadelphia celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and backs continuing fights to win equality and access for those with disabilities, including wounded veterans. A candidate for the PA House of Representatives (Northwest Philly’s 198th District) in 2006, Staggs used that campaign to overturn the loyalty oath required of political candidates in Pennsylvania.


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    stober

    Andrew Stober (I)

    Need to Know

    Helped bring IndeGo bike share to Philly as chief of staff at the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities
    Wants to bring participatory budgeting to City Council, where constituents would vote on how a small pot of city money is spent on projects in their neighborhoods.
    Proposes studying a roll-back the School District’s portion of the 10-year real estate tax abatement, to collect more local money for public schools.

    Bio

    Andrew Stober, 36, says he has a passion for Philadelphia and a belief that city government can work efficiently and effectively is evident through his commitment to public service. From 2008 until earlier this year, he was director of strategic initiatives, then chief of staff of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities. He secured federal grants for numerous transportation projects. He helped launch a pedestrian-safety effort, and reestablished a city energy office that has cut utility costs and increased use of renewable energy. Stober and his wife live in South Philly’s East Passyunk neighborhood. The son of public educators, he attended public schools before earning a BS in business administration from Northeastern University and a Master’s in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.


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    Taubenberger

    Al Taubenberger (R)

    Need to Know

    Opposes increasing Philadelphia School District Funding
    Vocal critic of council’s decision not to hold hearings over the proposed sale of PGW.
    Nutter appointed Taubenberger vice-chair of the Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission soon after the 2007 campaign
    Challenger

    Bio

    This is Al Taubenberger’s third race for city-wide office: Taubenberger, 61, was the GOP’s candidate for mayor against Michael Nutter in 2007 and narrowly lost to David Oh in 2011 for one of the two minority party seats on Council. Taubenberger has been President of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce since 1991; before that, he worked as a city council staffer. Taubenberger is a graduate of Penn State University.


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    Tinney

    Dan Tinney (R)

    Need to Know

    Before joining the Steamfitters Union Local 420, worked as a financial advisor.
    Lone Republican At-Large Candidate endorsed by the Philadelphia AFL-CIO.
    Critical of Council’s decision not to hold hearings on selling PGW to a private company.
    Challenger

    Bio

    At 33, Dan Tinney is one of the youngest candidates running for an At-Large Council seat. The Penn State graduate says he’ll use his business degrees to work on council to help make Philadelphia a major energy hub. The Northeast native supports ending councilmanic prerogative, equipping all police with body cameras, and reducing government spending.


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    Tracy

    Terry Tracy (R)

    Need to Know

    Wants to shift to a defined contribution hybrid retirement plan for new city workers to help fix pension crisis.
    School funding: rather than tax increases, prefers auditing Philadelphia schools and increased revenue contributions from PGW.
    Very critical of Council’s decision not to hold hearings over proposed PGW sale
    Challenger

    Bio

    This former executive for Ralph Lauren first entered the public realm during his campaign for City Controller in 2013. A so-called “bleeding heart conservative”, Tracy, 32, says he’s among a handful of new Republicans intent on making their party into a viable alternative to the Democratic machine. Tracy has scored endorsements from such rare bedfellows as the black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, Philly 3.0, and the Fraternal Order of Police. Tracy holds degrees from Temple University and a Masters in Government Administration from the Fels Institute at Penn.


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    Committee of Seventy contributed to this guide.

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