Updated: 5:19 p.m. EST
Today is the primary election for the Philadelphia region. Throughout the city, residents are heading out to cast their votes as on a number of key offices and ballot amendments until 8 p.m.
Emily Bogunovich was one of the early risers to cast her vote at 7 a.m. A big reason why she came out was to see Mayor Jim Kenney get re-elected.
“I like the soda tax, I think that’s cool,” Bogunovich said. “I have friends that have kids that are actually able to take advantage of the pre-K.”
In contrast, Daryl Northern from Point Breeze is not as happy with the current mayor because he said he doesn’t feel that Kenney kept some of his promises that were originally a part of his platform.
“One thing for me as an African American, the stop and frisk that Kenney ran on, that policy never came into fruition,” Northern said.
Steve Shapiro’s main reason for coming out had little to do with the mayor. He said he wants to vote for as many women as possible.
Steve Shapiro in South Philly didn’t have strong city council preferences. “All I wanted to do was vote for as many women. Because it’s time.” pic.twitter.com/emguj0WBxH
— Avi Wolfman-Arent (@Avi_WA) May 21, 2019
Lynn Tucker and Denzel Thompson, of North Philadelphia, always vote in the primary. They are concerned about rapid development in their neighborhood, and skyrocketing property taxes. Tucker said he supports candidates who will take those concerns seriously, but when asked who that would be, she shrugs. The ballot had a long list.
“There were so many names when it comes to this election,” Tucker said. “I’m like, ‘Who?’ It was overwhelming.”
Taylor Hatchell of North Philadelphia was driven to the polls, in part, because of the ballot question that could potentially raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Because I’m a home health aid worker,” Hatchell said. “They should raise that wage. That job isn’t easy. It’s pretty important.”
In West Philadelphia, Committeeperson Margaret DeSanto said turnout at her polling place has been “kind of slow.” As of 2 p.m., they had around 80 voters so far. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who represents West Philly, faces Jamie Gauthier, former executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, in this election.
WHYY visited eight polling places in West Philadelphia, and only had one had voter turnout over 100 by mid-afternoon.
A smart piece of pro-Blackwell literature I’ve seen stapled below big campaign signs on telephone poles in West Philly pic.twitter.com/cq5kSehEJ9
— Jake Blumgart (@jblumgart) May 21, 2019
Rodney Dunn of West Philadelphia said he believes in term limits, but as long as Council doesn’t have them, voters should re-elect Blackwell, who has represented the district since 1992.
“She has a long proven track record of providing results for our community,” Dunn said.
Meanwhile, Kenney also voted this morning.
— Tim Jimenez (@TimJRadio) May 21, 2019
Local 98, the electrical workers’ union, came out to show support for the current mayor and judicial candidate Dave Conroy.
For many others around the city, voting became a challenge when multiple polling places had technical difficulties with new voting systems.
— Alexander Cupo (@alexander_cupo) May 21, 2019
Only one voting machine available at the 39th ward in Pennsport. Poll workers said no votes were cast on the 2nd machine. Not too much of an issue because of sluggish turnout. I was voter #58. Also, are Election Day bake sales not a thing here? Just my polling place? 😭 I have 💰 pic.twitter.com/2AbllNMIId
— Ximena Conde (@RadioXimena) May 21, 2019
At a Ward 7 polling place in Cheltenham Township, an official reported that the doors at Berachah Church on Ashbourne Road did not open to voters until 7:45 a.m. — 45 minutes late because of technical issues with the new voting system.
“But once it got going, everything went smoothly,” the official said.
Keeping with an Election Day tradition, several candidates made an appearance at Relish and Famous 4th Street Delicatessen — playing the political game with those closely connected to the city races.
Need help finding your polling place? Visit the state’s polling place search tool.
In Philadelphia, voters in the Democratic primary are deciding whether to give incumbent Jim Kenney a second chance as mayor as he faces challenges from State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz. Billy Ciancaglini is on the ballot unopposed in the Republican primary.
Also up for election are numerous Council-at-large and district council seats. Those who receive the most votes from each party will move on to the general election in November.
There are 28 Democrats running for two open Council-at-large seats — the largest field in 40 years.
Some hotly contested district races to watch out for include City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, who represents parts of North Philadelphia in the 7th district and is facing Pa. state Rep. Angel Cruz as a challenger. More than half of the electioneering complaints sent to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office today have come from Quiñones-Sánchez’s district.
Competing camps for @MariaQSanchez and Angel Cruz are out in force at polls all over North Philly’s 7th District today. It’s been a heated race but they’re being (mostly!) civil so far. #PhillyVotes pic.twitter.com/iK41YYpATK
— Max M. Marin (@MaxMMarin) May 21, 2019
Sheriff, City Commissioners, several races for judge and four ballot questions are also at play today:
- Should Philly have a permanent office to help immigrants?
- Should City Council use gender-inclusive language for its elected officials?
- Should Philly set a $15 minimum wage?
- Should Philly hire unarmed traffic cops?
For a full look at what you will see at the polls, check out Billy Penn Procrastinator’s Guide to the May 2019 primary.
Polling places will stay open until 8 p.m. If you’re in line when the polls close, you’re still entitled to vote.
WHYY 90.9 FM will provide radio coverage on the election throughout the evening.