What to know ahead of the May 16 primary election

The election features five Philadelphia mayoral candidates in a statistical tie.

Philadelphians will vote on mayoral candidates, ballot measures and City Council candidates. | FILE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

On May 16, Philadelphians will vote for the city’s 100th mayor in the 2023 Pennsylvania primary election.

While the election includes candidates for city positions, like controller and councilmembers, and four ballot measures on topics like the budget, workforce development and public safety, most of the focus will be on the Democratic primary for mayor. Historically, the Democratic candidate who wins the primary has a high likelihood of becoming the next mayor.

An April 26 nonpartisan poll of likely voters showed a statistical tie in the Democratic mayoral race among Rebecca Rhynhart, Cherelle Parker, Helen Gym, Allan Domb and Jeff Brown, according to Committee of Seventy, a nonprofit anti-corruption organization. The poll also showed that 20 percent of voters were undecided.

Here’s what’s on the ballot this Tuesday and how Philadelphians can cast their votes.


Voters can find their polling location online. One of the closest polling locations to Main Campus is Bright Hope Baptist Church on 12th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Polling locations are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Mail-in ballots, which had to be requested by May 9, must be returned to a drop box or election officials by 8 p.m. on May 16. Philadelphia is providing secure drop box locations for ballots around the city, including at Temple’s Mitten Hall, and voters can check the status of their mail-in ballot online.

Pennsylvania’s deadline to register to vote in the primary was May 1, but residents can find their voter registration status online.


Rebecca Rhynhart (D)

Rhynhart, who had a slight lead in the poll, is the former city controller who conducted an audit of the Philadelphia Police Department and explored the city’s accounting process. Three former mayors and The Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed her.

Rhynhart plans on reforming the city’s tax system by lowering business, income and wage tax, and the PPD to reduce violent crime by focusing on her office’s audit recommendations, 911 response times and community-first policing.

Cherelle Parker (D)

Parker is a former City Council majority leader and a former state representative in Northwest Philadelphia. In March 2022, Parker introduced a neighborhood safety and community policing plan, which would address citywide police shortages by hiring 300 additional officers. 

Parker wants schools to offer students more resources, like after-school programs, to create safer neighborhoods.

Helen Gym (D)

Gym is a former city council member whose most recent endorsements include United States Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Gym heavily focuses on education and has advocated for better learning conditions in public schools. 

At an April 11 Democratic mayoral debate at the Temple Performing Arts Center, Gym said she’d enact a state of emergency to address gun violence. She’d also expand non-police mental health crisis units.

Allan Domb (D)

Domb is a former city council member with experience as a real estate broker who supports tax cuts for businesses as well as hiring law enforcement and reducing spending.

When asked at the Temple debate about potential gentrification under his administration, Domb said he would leverage affordable housing with city-controlled properties.

Jeff Brown (D)

Brown, an owner of ShopRite and Fresh Grocer, is focused on addressing generational poverty to improve other city challenges. Brown also wants individuals convicted of crimes to have more opportunities when they return to their communities.

Amen Brown (D)

Pennsylvania State Rep. Amen Brown says he approaches gun violence from a victim’s perspective, as he was shot when he was 12 years old. He’s pro-law enforcement and would replace Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw to boost morale and prosecute criminals, Brown said at the debate. He often crosses party lines, meeting with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz during the summer.

Amen Brown also mentioned plans to increase lighting and cameras around the city.

“If we had these things, maybe I wouldn’t be standing here with a bullet lodged in between my ribs, so my lived experiences give me a seat at the table to solve this problem,” Brown said.

David Oh (R)

Oh is the sole Republican mayoral candidate. He resigned from city council in February to run for mayor, and is a former assistant district attorney in Philadelphia. Oh’s priorities include more criminal prosecution, education reform and lowering taxes and regulations for businesses.


The first question on the ballot will ask if the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, which establishes rules for the annual operating budget, should increase requirements for annual minimum appropriations to the Budget Stabilization Reserve, or the “rainy day fund,” that will set aside emergency money each year. 

The second question on the ballot will ask voters if they approve of a Division of Workforce Solutions within the Department of Commerce. This new division would promote workforce development and provide information on job training and employment opportunities.

The ballot will also ask if amendments should be made to the Charter to make employees of the Citizens Police Oversight Commission exempt from civil service hiring requirements, a system of merit-based evaluation for hiring. The CPOC is an oversight agency that ensures accountability and transparency in PPD.

The final ballot measure could create an Office of the Chief Public Safety Director, a new position that would coordinate public safety responses. The position would be one of the top four administrative positions in the city, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

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