Scally switches to Independent at-large Council ticket

Long-time Roxborough resident Bernard Scally is now pinning his bid for an at-large seat on Philadelphia City Council to an independent ticket.

The former journalist initially announced in February that he would run as a Republican, but told NewsWorks Thursday he had a change of heart soon afterwards.

Scally said the move is primarily the result of an unsuccessful scramble to build a Republican-only campaign committee. But he also said he realized the GOP simply wasn’t a good fit for him or likely very appealing to his potential voters.

“The national brand tends to sour people,” said Scally, who was previously a life-long Democrat. “Most people who see the Republican brand tend to judge it by the personalities they see in the media.”

As an independent candidate, Scally will not be part of the May 17 primary, but can appear on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot if he can collect the required number of valid signatures from fellow independents or any other political party.

Between now and Aug. 1, Scally, and other would-be minority candidates, must collect 1,845 or more signatures to qualify to fill one of seven at-large seats. The unusual number represents two percent of the highest number of total votes in the 2007 General Election. It’s also 845 more than the minimum for Democratic and Republican candidates.

Scally said he’s confident he can get the nominating petitions he needs. “I’m obviously well known in Roxborough, Manayunk working at the local paper out here,” said Scally. “But I got on the bus to go downtown and someone tugged my arm and said ‘We’re looking forward to your campaign’.”

Independent candidates such as Scally or those representing other alternative party platforms such as the Green Party or Libertarians will find out Aug. 8 if they’ll appear on the November ballot. Opposing campaigns and/or voters can challenge a candidates’ nomination papers during the first week of August.

Traditionally, five Democrats and two Republicans are elected to fill the at-large Council seats. Under the city’s charter, minority parties – usually the Republicans – are guaranteed at least two at-large seats.

Of the seven at-large positions on City Council, only one, a seat currently filled by incumbent Republican Jack Kelly, is completely open. Six at-large incumbents are seeking re-election.

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