Philly primary voters head to polls for key City Council seats, Dem. candidate for mayor

Philadelphians come out for early morning voting in the 2019 primary election in Fishtown (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

Philadelphians come out for early morning voting in the 2019 primary election in Fishtown (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

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.

Voters outside of Fishtown Recreation Center Tuesday morning shortly after the polls opened for 2019 primary election. (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

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.”

Emily Bogunovich came out to vote to re-elect Mayor Jim Kenney on May 21, 2019 (Avi Wolfman-Arent/WHYY)

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.

Daryl Northern voted in the early morning of Election Day, May 21, 2018. (Avi Wolfman-Arent/WHYY)

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.

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.


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.

Local 98, the electrical workers’ union, came out to show support for the current mayor and judicial candidate Dave Conroy.

Outside Famous 4th Street Deli, Local 98 representatives show their support for Mayor Jim Kenney and judicial candidate Dave Conroy. (Dave Davies/WHYY)

For many others around the city, voting became a challenge when multiple polling places had technical difficulties with new voting systems.

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.

Sheriff, City Commissioners, several races for judge and four ballot questions are also at play today:

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.

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