Low voter turnout as Democrats dominate city elections

A local ward leader said Election Day was slow as many students were unregistered.

Democratic candidates were nominated in every election last Tuesday, with Republicans taking only two City Council seats.

The Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners reported Jim Kenney fulfilled predictions for his mayoral victory with 85.38 percent of the vote, while his Republican competitor, Melissa Murray Bailey received 13.22 percent. The indendent candidates, James Foster, Boris Kindij and Osborne Hart, received a combined 1.36 percent of the vote.

The Office also reported a 25.65 percent voter turnout for the elections—less than 300,000 people cast their votes on Election Day.

“It was kind of slow,” said George Brooks, the Democratic Ward Leader of Ward 47, one of the four wards around Temple. “A lot of students don’t say they live here, so they’re not registered. They don’t look at it like it’s their home.”

Brooks has been a ward leader in his community for about 20 years and said he is “proud” of the candidates who won the elections.

“These were really great candidates,” he said. “They’re bright, approachable and they’re going to make a change. They didn’t run for the sake of running.”

Brooks said the candidates’ accessibility made his job as a ward leader easier and more effective. When an issue arises in the community, ward leaders are asked to go to elected officials and get consideration for a solution from the city. He added a good relationship with City Council made him a better liaison between the community and the council to fix problems.

“A lot of people in my ward can’t read or write,” Brooks said. “When someone has a problem, I can get it done. I write the letters because they can’t. Sometimes they don’t even know. It’s sad to see people uninformed on their state of living because it’s been like that for generations.”

Brooks added he was excited to have a mayor like Kenney because his background was of someone who “gets it.”

“He grew up in the neighborhood,” Brooks said. “He’s going to make some change because he knows what needs to be done. He listens and isn’t all over the place.”

Although there is already ongoing development in the city, Brooks said he would like to see City Council and the mayor make a larger effort to reach out and create more jobs. The unemployment in Philadelphia was at 7.4 percent in June.

“There are so many programs to help people,” Brooks said. “We need to get that out there because young people don’t know about it. They think they’re doomed at 21.”

Republican ward leaders near Temple could not be reached for comment.

Julie Christie can be reached at julie.christie@temple.edu or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

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