Philadelphia mayor’s race candidate tracker: Who’s running?

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Derek Green

Derek Green speaks at a Philly mayoral candidate forum. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Before getting elected to City Council, Derek Green was a small business owner, running a Northwest Philly retail shoe store with his wife. He spent time as an assistant district attorney and worked for the city’s Law Department.

In his years as at-large councilmember, Green forwarded a variety of initiatives aimed at new avenues for public funding, like the Philadelphia Public Financial Authority and a marijuana legalization plan. He also led the recent charge in negotiating cuts to Philly’s business and wages taxes.

  • Previous elected experience: Two terms in City Council. Green was the highest at-large vote getter in his first election.
  • How long in Philly? Green is a Northwest Philly who still lives in Mt. Airy.
  • Big wins: His plan to create a municipal bank, which was passed by Council, could result in the first of its kind in the U.S. (though the current mayor is declining to get the process started).
  • What’s his network? Green has deep ties in Northwest Philly’s political circles. He has been president of the national Democratic Municipal Officials, and has worked with the National League of Cities.
  • Vibe: With energizer bunny energy, he keeps on going with new plans and platforms. Definitely an “ideas guy.”

 

Helen Gym

Helen Gym speaks at a mayoral candidate forum. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Helen Gym was a second-term at-large councilmember when she resigned from office to run for mayor, but she was a known quantity in the Philly politics world well before that. Once dubbed the city’s “preeminent public agitator,” the former teacher spent years advocating for improved public schools, and was active in Philly’s Asian American community, protesting against proposed developments in Chinatown.

On Council, Gym focused her efforts on education, labor, and housing. Her mayoral campaign seeks to deliver on progressive priorities, like debt-free college and a municipal Green New Deal.

  • Previous elected experience? Two terms on City Council as an at-large member, from 2016 to 2022.
  • How long in Philly? Gym has spent around three decades in Philly. She went to Penn for undergrad and grad school in the ‘90s, and started her teaching career at Lowell Elementary School in Olney.
  • Big wins: Spearheading fair workweek legislation, passing a “Right to Counsel” bill that applies to two zip codes, and introducing an eviction diversion program. She’s the first Asian American woman elected to City Council.
  • What’s her network? Gym previously led Asian Americans United, and she co-founded a charter school, and the activist group Parents United for Public Education. Gym has also served on the board of Local Progress, a nationwide group of local elected officials pushing for policies that further racial and economic justice.
  • Endorsements: Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Reclaim Philadelphia, API PA
  • Vibe: A fiery progressive activist who’s been referred to as “Philly’s AOC.”

 

Cherelle Parker

File photo: Former Councilmember Cherelle Parker at a street renaming ceremony in December 2021. (Jared Piper / PHL City Council Flickr)

Cherelle Parker is the longest serving legislative official in the race. She spent a decade in Harrisburg as a state representative from 2005-2015, and the following 7 years as a member of City Council representing Northwest Philly’s District 9, where she grew up and still lives.

Much of her work has revolved around the “middle neighborhoods” that exist within her district, in hopes that they can be a model for the city more widely. She made history in 2021 as the first woman appointed chair of the Delaware River Port Authority, the bi-state organization that runs PATCO and is in charge of tolls on four cross-river bridges.

  • Previous elected experience: With 17 years between the Pa. House and City Council, Parker’s tenure as an elected official is second among candidates, trailing only Jimmy DeLeon’s decades as a judge.
  • How long in Philly? Parker was born in Mt. Airy, where she currently lives.
  • Big wins: Helping establish the Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP) property tax relief program, Philly’s cigarette tax, and a 2017 home repair loan plan.
  • What’s her network? Parker is part of the Northwest Coalition, a group of politicos who’ve organized together for decades, and whose network has historically included leaders of the Laborers’ District Council. She also has various allies in state government from her DRPA position and time serving in Harrisburg.
  • Vibe: A rousing motivational speaker with a sharp sense of humor.

 

Maria Quiñones Sánchez

María Quiñones Sánchez speaks at a Philly mayoral candidate forum
María Quiñones Sánchez speaks at a Philly mayoral candidate forum. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

First elected in 2007 to represent District 7 and reelected three times since, former Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez is known for her melding of progressive and pro-business stances. The Kensington resident has a record of bucking local Democratic party leaders, who declined to endorse her Council runs.

Quiñones Sánchez, the first Latina to hold elected office in Philly, worked to mandate construction of affordable housing and proposed a stimulus spending package to boost Black and brown neighborhoods. She fiercely criticized the soda tax, reaping election-year support from the beverage industry.

  • Previous elected experience? 14 years representing Councilmanic District 7, which includes parts of lower Northeast Philly and North Philadelphia around Kensington.
  • How long in Philly? Born in Puerto Rico, she came to Philadelphia as an infant and grew up in Spring Garden and Hunting Park. She lives in Norris Square.
  • Big wins: Quiñones Sánchez was the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Council. She led legislative efforts to reduce the number of small businesses subject to business taxes, mandate affordable housing, create the Philadelphia Land Bank, and expand protections for domestic workers.
  • What’s her network? Quiñones Sánchez has served as leader of statewide education nonprofit ASPIRA, and as a regional director for Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.
  • Vibe: A tough, independent progressive who puts pragmatism over pride.

Rebecca Rhynhart

Rebecca Rhynhart speaks at a Philly mayoral candidate forum
Rebecca Rhynhar speaks at a Philly mayoral candidate forum. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Following a stint in financial services and banking, Rebecca Rhynhart got her start in government as city treasurer in 2008 under Mayor Michael Nutter, and later served as his budget director and chief administrative officer, a job she continued under Kenney.

Elected as city controller in 2017, Rhynhart reimagined the office to take a more active role in policy analysis, challenging the “political staus quo” and producing interactive tools to help find solutions to issues like gun violence.





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