By the numbers The following is the voter turnout in Philadelphia during the past elections based on total registered voters, according to the City Commissioners’ Office. 2018 General Election: 51% 2018 Primary: 16.9% 2017 General Election: 20.4% 2017 Primary: 17.3% 2016 General Election: 66.1% 2016 Primary: 40% 2015 General Election: 25.8% 2015 Primary: 27.2% 2014 General Election: 37. 4% 2014 Primary: 18.4% 2013 General Election: 11.6% 2013 Primary: 8.4% 2012 General Election: 66.2% 2012 Primary: 17.8% 2011 General Election: 19.7% 2011 Primary: 19.8% 2010 General Election: 41% 2010 Primary: 18.8% 2009 General Election: 12.5% 2009 Primary: 12.1% 2008 General Election: 66.8% 2008 Primary: 46.6%
Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to vote on four ballot questions and a primary races for mayor, City Council, sheriff, city commissioners and judeships, among others.
Pennsylvania has a closed primary system, so only voters registered with either of the two major political parties can cast ballots for candidates. Nonetheless, independent voters can vote on ballot questions.
The primary is the first election since more than 51% of registered voters cast a ballot in the general election last year — a figure not seen since 1994.
But primary elections typically suffer from anemic turnout. Last year, a mere 16.9% of voters turned out for the primary. In 2015 during the previous mayoral primary, 27.2% of registered voters turned out.
David Thornburgh, who heads the nonpartisan government watchdog group Committee of Seventy, expected the charged national political climate and large candidate pool to increase voter turnout.
However, the lack of a fiercely fought mayoral battled at the top of the ticket may dampen enthusiasm, he noted.
“The question is, Are people happy with business as usual?” Thornburgh asked. “Or is there a sense of impatience about the quality of our politics and people in government? If it’s the latter, you’re going to see higher turnout and you’re going to see some fresh faces ...; if it’s the former, you’re going to see the same-old same-old.”
Mayor Jim Kenney is seeking a second term and is facing challenges from state Sen. Anthony Williams and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz in the Democratic primary.
Kenney has overseen the creation of a pre-kindergarten program, Community Schools and $500million infrastructure project to renovate recreation centers, libraries, parks and other public spaces.
But Kenney also put in place the city’s 1.5-cents-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax to fund the three programs, all of which rank among his top legislative accomplishments. Black leaders and soda industry leaders have panned the surcharge as a regressive tax that hurts businesses, which Kenney denies.
Kenney has overseen new investments in public education and reforms of the police department, such as the reduced use of “stop and frisk,” but homicides have hit a 10-year high and the 26% poverty rate has remained unmoved.
Williams is facing Kenney for a second time in a mayoral primary after losing to him in 2015.
The state senator, who represents the 8th District in West Philadelphia, has pledged to end the sweetened beverage tax, cut poverty in half over the next eight years, revamp the city’s property tax assessments, and end the use of stop and frisk, among other things.
Butkovitz has committed to creating jobs by expanding shipping activity in the city’s ports and focusing on other blue-collar, low-skill industries, such as truck driving. He also has pledged to end the use of stop and frisk, and implement revenue-neutral property tax assessments, among other issues.
Other than a candidate forum with the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and a televised debate, Kenney has shunned public appearances with his challengers, saying he prefers to focus on running the city.
Republican Billy Ciancaglini faces no challenger in the GOP primary.
Democratic City Council at-large primary
Twenty-eight candidates are running in the Democratic at-large City Council primary, the most since 1979.
Registered Democrats can vote for up to five candidates.
Democratic incumbents Helen Gym, Allan Domb and Derek Green are fighting for re-election in the primary.
At-large City Council members and Democrats Blondell Reynolds Brown and William Greenlee declined to seek another term.
Democratic challengers for the at-large seats are Adrián Rivera-Reyes, Deja Lynn Alvarez, Ogbonna Paul Hagins, Fernando Treviño, Eryn Santamoor, Joseph A Diorio, Hena Veit, Billy Thompson, Beth Finn, Latrice Bryant, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Erika Almirón, Bobbie Curry, Isaiah Thomas, Vinny Black, Wayne Edmund Dorsey, Edwin Santana, Mark Ross, Devon Cade, Sandra Dungee Glenn, Wayne Allen, Justin DiBerardinis, Fareed Abdullah, Asa Khalif and Ethelind Baylor.
Republican at-large City Council primary
Republican incumbents Al Taubenberger and David Oh are seeking re-election.
They will face challenges Drew Murray, Irina M. Goldstein, Dan Tinney, Matt Wolfe and Bill Heeney.
Registered Republicans can vote for up to five candidates.
Democratic primary for sheriff
Incumbent Sheriff Jewell Williams is facing three challengers in the Democratic primary for sheriff as he remains dogged by multiple sexual harassment allegations.
Rochelle Bilal, Malika Rahman and Larry King Sr. are vying to unseat Williams.
Three women have accused Williams of sexual misconduct, one of which led to a payout of $127,000 from the city and another is still pending in federal court.
Democratic City Council District 1 primary
Incumbent Mark Squilla faces challenger Lou Lanni in the Democratic primary.
Republican City Council District 1 primary
Daniel Orsino is running uncontested in the Republican primary.
Democratic City Council District 2 primary
Incumbent Kenyatta Johnson is facing Lauren Vidas in the Democratic primary.
Republican City Council District 2 primary
Michael Bradley is running uncontested in the Republican primary.
Democratic City Council District 3 primary
Incumbent Jannie Blackwell is facing Jamie Gauthier in the Democratic primary.
Democratic City Council District 4 primary
Incumbent Curtis Jones Jr. is facing challenger Ron Adams in the Democratic primary.
Democratic City Council District 5 primary
Incumbent and City Council President Darrell Clarke is running uncontested in the Democratic primary.
Democratic City Council District 6 primary
Incumbent Bobby Henon is running uncontested in the Democratic primary.
Republican City Council District 6 primary
Pete Smith is running uncontested in the Republican primary.
Democratic City Council District 7 primary
Incumbent Maria Quiñones-Sánchez is facing state Rep. Angel Cruz, D-180, in the Democratic primary.
Democratic City Council District 8 primary
Incumbent Cindy Bass is running uncontested in the Democratic primary.
Democratic City Council District 9 primary
Incumbent Cherelle Parker is running uncontested in the Democratic primary.
Democratic City Council District 10 primary
Judy Moore is running uncontested in the Democratic primary.
Republican City Council District 10 primary
Incumbent Brian O’Neill is running uncontested in the Republican primary.
City Commissioner primaries
Three seats are open for City Commissioner, a bi-partisan board in charge of Philadelphia’s elections and voter registration.
In the Democratic primary, incumbent Lisa Deeley is facing Marwan Kreidie, Omar Sabir, Luigi Borda, Dennis Lee, Annette Thompson, Kahlil Williams, Carla Cain, Warren Bloom, Moira Bohannon, Robin Trent, Jen Devor and Lewis Harris Jr.
Democratic Commissioner Anthony Clark is not seeking re-election.
Registered Democrats can vote for up to two candidates.
In the Republican primary, incumbent Al Schmidt is running uncontested.
Democratic Register of Wills primary
Incumbent Ronald Donatucci is facing challengers Tracey Gordon and Jacque Whaumbush in the Democratic primary.
The register of wills has oversees records of wills, inventory of estates, and other documents, among other duties.
Primaries for Superior Court judgeships
There are two openings on the state Superior Court, which oversees appeals in criminal and civil cases and appeals involving children and families.
Beth Tarasi, Daniel McCaffery and Amanda Green-Hawkins are running in the Democratic primary.
Rebecca Warren, Megan McCarthy King and Christylee Peck are running in the Republican primary.
Registered voters in either party can vote up to two candidates.
Primaries for Court of Common Pleas judgeships
There are six open seats on the Court of Common Pleas, which hears appeals from the minor courts, those not exclusively assigned to another court, and those involving children and families.
Competing in the the Democratic primary are Jennifer Schultz, Joshua Roberts, Craig Levin, Jon Marshall, James Crumlish, Nicola Serianni, Wendi Barish, Leon Goodman, Robert Trimble, Beth Grossman, Sherman Toppin, Cateria McCabe, Kendra McCrae, Vicki Markovitz, Laurie Dow, Anthony Kyriakakis, Chris Hall, Henry McGregor Sias, Janine Momasso, Tiffany Palmer, Carmella Jacquinto, James F Berardinelli, Terri M Booker, Kay Yu and Gregory Weyer.
Registered Democrats can vote for up to six candidates.
Beth Grossman is the lone candidate running in the Republican primary.
Democratic primary for Municipal Court judgeships
There is one opening on the Municipal Court, which is responsible for deciding whether serious criminal cases go to the Court of Common Pleas, preliminary arraignments and hearings, and setting and accepting bail (except for those cases involving murder or voluntary manslaughter).
Candidates David Conroy and Theresa Brunson are running in the Democratic primary.
The following four ballot questions will be on the ballot:
Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to change certain gender specific references (such as “councilman,” “councilmen,” and “Councilmanic”) to gender neutral references (such as “councilmember,” “councilmembers,” and “Council”)?
Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to establish and define the functions of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, headed by a Director of Immigrant Affairs?
Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call on the General Assembly to either increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage now, so that it reaches $15 an hour, in stages, by 2025; or allow the City of Philadelphia to itself provide for a decent, family sustaining, living wage for working Philadelphians?
Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to require the establishment of “Public Safety Enforcement Officers” to assist the Police Department in regulating the flow of traffic; to enforce and assist the appropriate City officers in the enforcement of ordinances relating to the quality of life in the City’s neighborhoods; and to perform such other related duties as the Managing Director or Council may require?
Polls are open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. To locate your polling place or check your registration status, visit www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/.