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May 22, 2023

Cindy Bass narrowly wins Democratic primary in City Council's 8th District

The three-term incumbent held a margin of about 400 votes over challenger Seth Anderson-Oberman in Northwest Philly

2023 Election City Council
Cindy Bass wins 8th District primary Source/Philadelphia City Council

Philadelphia City Councilmember Cindy Bass wins the Democratic primary race for the 8th District.

Philadelphia City Councilmember Cindy Bass has been declared the winner of a tight Democratic primary race for the 8th District, which covers the Northwest Philly neighborhoods of Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Germantown, Nicetown-Tioga and parts of East Falls.

The Associated Press called the race for Bass on Monday morning, nearly a week after the election, with about 95% of the votes counted. Bass held a margin of just 406 votes over challenger Seth Anderson-Oberman, a labor organizer who pushed to unseat Bass after three terms in office.

The 8th district race was the closest primary contest in a year when all 17 seats on City Council are up for grabs. Incumbents or uncontested candidates won each of the city's nine other districts — most of them with ease.

Bass had declared victory last Wednesday, citing her campaign's analysis of the votes left to be counted.

Anderson-Oberman, who campaigned on issues like affordable housing, crime prevention and school renovations, had told supporters last Thursday that the race remained too close to call.

The Chestnut Hill Local reported Bass won every part of the 8th district except the northernmost wards in Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy and Germantown. Anderson-Oberman was especially successful in the 9th ward in Chestnut Hill, where he held 72% of the vote. In Mount Airy's 22nd ward and Germantown's 59th ward, Anderson-Oberman held 56% and 51% of the vote, respectively.

Bass had lopsided victories in Nicetown-Tioga's 11th and 13th wards, with 70% and 68% of the vote, respectively. And in North Philadelphia's 17th ward, she held 76% of the vote.

Historically, primary challengers have struggled to defeat incumbents in City Council elections. The last to do it was Jamie Gauthier, who beat six-term 3rd District Councilmember Jannie Blackwell in the 2019 Democratic primary to represent West Philly.

On Tuesday night, Anderson-Oberman told his supporters that the campaign's success is a sign that Philadelphia neighborhoods are gaining more influence in the direction of city politics.

“Whatever the result is, I know that the relationships that we’re building over these months going forward are going to transform this district, and they’re going to transform the city,” Anderson-Oberman said. “We know that another Philadelphia is possible.”

As for the citywide, at-large election, Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Jim Harrity were joined by Rue Landau and Nina Ahmad among the top five vote-getters in a field of 27 Democratic candidates. All five will appear on the ballot for the November City Council general election.

Republicans Drew Murray, Frank Cristinzio, Gary Grisafi, Jim Hasher and Mary Jane Kelley will also appear on the November ballot for at-large seats.

To guarantee some bipartisan representation on City Council, one party cannot hold more than five of the seven at-large seats. This ensures at least two seats go to the minority party — which historically in Philadelphia has been the Republicans — or independent candidates.

Councilmember Kendra Brooks, of the Working Families Party, holds one of those seats and will be on the November ballot. There are no at-large Republicans currently on City Council, since the other minority seat was vacated by GOP mayoral candidate David Oh. Three Democratic at-large council members — Helen Gym, Allan Domb and Derek Green — also resigned to run for mayor.