Last week PlanPhilly broke news that Andrew Stober, former Chief of Staff at MOTU (Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities), will be running as an Independent for Council At-Large in this year's November 3 general municipal election. This presents a unique opportunity for Stober and supporters of The 5th Square.
But before we delve into those opportunities, let's take a quick look at Philadelphia's legislative governance structure and the leadership changes we'll see when the next class of City Council takes it seats. Philadelphia City Council is the legislative body of our city. Akin to a unicameral version of our US Congress, Council works as our legislature to pass new laws. There are 17 members of City Council. 10 represent geographic districts within the city and can hail from any party. 7 are At-Large seats, meaning they represent the city as a whole. Of these 7, 2 must be from a minority party (Republican, Independent, etc). Since Philadelphia is overwhelmingly Democratic, the remaining 5 seats go to the Dems.
On May 19th Philadelphia Democrats went to the polls to determine who among the 16 people running as Democrats in the primary would become the 5 to appear on November ballots. From the 5 officially endorsed candidates The 5th Square supported in this primary, 2 were elected: incumbent Blondell Reynolds-Brown, and political newcomer Helen Gym. We look forward to working with both.
For Philadelphia Republicans, the story is slightly different. Since Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have closed primaries, only those registered as Democrats or Republicans can vote in the primary for candidates sharing their party affiliation. Instead of 5 selections to make for City Council At-Large, Republicans are given 2 per our city charter recognizing them as the minority party. The top 5 finishing Republican candidates of 7 that were running, are then listed in ballot order in November with the number one vote getter in the primary being listed first and the last out of 5 final Republican candidates being listed last. If you are registered Independent in PA, your political voice is virtually mute during the primary, as you are barred from voting for either Democrats or Republicans. This is a strong incentive to register either D or R if you are not already. As a reminder, we endorsed Terry Tracy, who will appear in the 3rd ballot position for the Republicans, and Matt Wolfe, who did not hit the top 5 and has been dropped from the November ballot.
General elections offer different rules for voting than primaries here in PA. All voters, be they Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, etc. are given 5 votes to fill the 7 member body of Council At-Large. It is within this framework that Andrew Stober has decided to run as an Independent. With 16 people jockeying for the 5 Democrat At-Large seats, some talented folks were left out of Council At-Large. Stober avoided this fate and by running Independent is now looking for votes from any Philadelphian, regardless of party affiliation, to support his candidacy in November.
He's already launched his campaign website and has begun collecting signatures. Given Andrew's extensive experience working in urban planning, his candidacy sparks interest from us as an organization. We will be reaching out to Stober and asking him to fill out our 2015 Candidate Questionnaire. We will also reengage with any candidates who did not complete our questionnaire before the primary, like David Oh, in order to present you the voter with the most information possible in order for you to make informed choices. Stay tuned!
You can check out Andrew's website here or follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @StoberofPhilly Andrew will be making his official announcement of entry into the race tomorrow at noon at the Municipal Services Building. More details here.