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Philly City Council to get at least three new voices

 Helen Gym supporters chant 'run, Helen, run' at her official announcement for her City Council at-large run. She holds a narrow lead for the fifth and final Democratic spot on the fall ballot. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Helen Gym supporters chant 'run, Helen, run' at her official announcement for her City Council at-large run. She holds a narrow lead for the fifth and final Democratic spot on the fall ballot. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia voters decided to shake up their City Council in Tuesday’s primary election. Three new faces are primed to join the ranks of the 17-member body as at-large council members.

One newcomer was guaranteed an at-large seat because Jim Kenney retired to run for mayor, but two incumbents were also ousted: Wilson Goode Jr, and Ed Neilson, the former state representative backed by the powerful electricians.

Derek Green was the top vote-getter in the Democratic field. He’s a small business owner who’s served on the staff of retiring councilwoman Marian Tasco. He had the top ballot position.

“Hopefully I can bring some of my experience from working in Council, and also my experiences of being outside city government to bring some new ideas and vision for this city,” Green said.

Allan Domb was another challenger who made the Democrats’ top five. He’s a big time real estate developer who raised a million dollars for the race — half of it coming from his own wallet and much of it going to ads that aired early and often on television.

The third new seat will go to either public education advocate Helen Gym or charter school dean Isaiah Thomas. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Gym led by about 1,100 votes..with little chance of her margin being overcome.

Tuesday was a bad day for Philadelphia political dynasties. Two sons of former mayors failed to win at-large nominations: Wilson Goode Jr. and Frank Rizzo Jr. And Sherrie Cohen, daughter of long time at-large councilman David Cohen, also lost.

With Cohen’s loss, the city will still not an openly gay council person. Former Reading Terminal Market general manager Paul Stienke could have made that history as well, but he finished well out of contention.

Democratic Incumbents Blondell Reynolds Brown and Bill Greenlee held on to their seats.

All of the candidates still have to run in November’s general election, but with city Democrats outnumbering Republicans by wide margins, the Democratic nominees are all but guaranteed seats.

Minority party representatives are guaranteed at least two at-large seats by the City Charter.  The men who currently hold those spots on Council, Dennis O’Brien and David Oh, were among the five at-large nominees approved by Republican voters. The other three GOP nominees are Terry Tracy, Al Taubenberger and Dan Tinney.

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