Thank You! The Big Urbanist Wins from the 2019 Primary

The 2019 election results are in, and we at 5th Square want to say THANK YOU for all the help and support Philly's urbanist community provided to us and to candidates during this primary election cycle. There was a lot at stake this year, and with your help, we were able to make our core issues of mobility, land planning, and public space policies an important part of the election season conversation.

We were also successful at getting Council candidates on the record with some important campaign promises like ending Council's veto over new bike lanes, free transit fares for kids under 12, a citywide transit-oriented housing overlay, permit parking reform, and much more. Read the candidates' questionnaire answers for more on what the winning candidates pledged to do this term.

Now that the election is over, it's time to turn our focus toward growing our membership, and becoming a much bigger and more visible constituency so we can get these policies and more passed in City Council once the new members are seated.

You can help by becoming a member. We were able to make a big difference with a little over 100 members contributing $5 a month or more, and we're setting a goal of doubling that to 200 members by the November general election. If you care about winning a more accessible, sustainable, and equitable Philadelphia, become a member today for as little as $5 a month.

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WIN: Jamie Gauthier for the 3rd Council District

Our endorsed candidate Jamie Gauthier won an historic victory over 27-year incumbent Jannie Blackwell.  Gauthier brings with her strong urban planning and public space credentials with previous roles heading the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Sustainable Business Network.

Early in the race, we were one of the first groups to endorse and provide volunteer support for her campaign.  Buoyed by a message that resonated across the district and a great personal story, Gauthier won by a healthy 12-point margin!

Going by Gauthier's questionnaire responses, urbanists will have a major new ally in Council. She calls for faster progress on the Mayor's Vision Zero initiatives, increased transit funding and pro-ridership changes, implementing free fares for children, new protections for low-income renters, and support for dense, walkable housing near transit stations.

With the upcoming bus network redesign and trolley modernization projects, and the City's recent efforts to provide safer streets through traffic calming measures such as protected bike lanes, this election could not have come at a better time!


WIN: Helen Gym Relected to City Council At-Large

Helen Gym won her reelection bid by a huge margin, winning the most votes by far out of the At-Large field, with 16% of the vote. Gym's bold progressive vision resonated citywide, and we're excited that progressive transportation ideas for streets and public transit are a part of her agenda next term.

From her questionnaire answers, Gym will continue to advocate for pedestrian safety, free transit fares for children, a comprehensive bus network redesign, and protected bike lanes citywide.

We are especially excited to have Council member Gym back on Council to work on transit equity issues next term.


WIN: Ballot Question 4
Authorizing Public Safety Enforcement Officers

The Public Safety Enforcement Officer ballot question we endorsed passed with nearly 70% of voters in favor. This will create the position of unarmed civilian traffic officers tasked with the goals of improving traffic flow and targeting unsafe .

Council President Clarke, the ballot question's main sponsor, drew parallels in a statement between traffic deaths and gun violence: "One preventable death is too many, and we are approaching truly alarming rates of both homicides and pedestrian fatalities," he wrote, adding "Too many people here are unsafe during their bike to work, their walk to school, or on their own block."

Clarke says the hard work will fall on the next administration to develop rules and policies for this new class of officers, which will come from a collaborative approach involving all major stakeholders, including transportation safety advocates. Follow our newsletter for developments on this issue as it progresses.


We're also excited about the election of Kathy Gilmore Richardson for one of the At-Large Council seats. We appreciated her work on environmental and zoning policy as a legislative aide in Council member Blondell Reynolds Brown's office and look forward to working with her once in office. Responding to 5th Square's questionnaire, she went on the record with several progressive land use and transportation positions, particularly regarding better enforcement of blocked crosswalks, increasing local SEPTA funding, expanding multi-family zoning, and a citywide Transit-Oriented Development overlay.

Two of the other incumbents who were re-elected, Derek Green and Allan Domb are also frequent supporters of urbanist causes in Council. Read Council member Domb's questionnaire answers here. We'd also like to congratulate the third Democratic At-Large winner Isaiah Thomas on his victory, and would like to invite him (and the other members) to come speak to our members at one of our monthly meet-ups this summer or fall on the second Thursday of every month

We are incredibly proud of the performance of all of our endorsed candidates in this last election. In the 2nd District Council race, Lauren Vidas put together an impressive ground game and garnered a higher percentage of votes than the incumbent's challenger 4 years prior.

Our other City Council At-Large endorsed candidates, all of whom were running for the first time, had impressible showings this primary race. Justin DiBerardinis finished a close 6th, Adrian Rivera-Reyes came in 7th, and Eryn Santamoor came in 8th place.  If we could only elect three more!

We’ll be inviting the Council candidates to come and speak at our monthly meet-ups this summer and fall on the second Thursday of every month, so follow our newsletter and become a member to help us make the most of the opportunities for progress on transportation and planning policy in the next Council session!

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