More News:

November 07, 2023

Working Families Party candidates win Philly City Council's at-large seats over Republicans

Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O'Rourke defeated GOPers Jim Hasher and Drew Murray; Dems take five other seats, including wins by newcomers Nina Ahmad and Rue Landau

2023 Election City Council
City Council 2023 election Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

All seven of Philadelphia City Council's at-large seats are up for election for on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Republicans and Working Family Party candidates are poised to battle for two seats reserved for minority parties.

In Tuesday's race for Philadelphia's seven at-large City Council seats, five Democrats won, as expected, but in an unprecedented turn of events, two members of the Working Families Party claimed both of the seats reserved for the minority party. Republicans had held those seats uninterrupted for 70 years. 

The Associated Press projected Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O' Rourke, of the progressive Working Families Party, to win their at-large bids for City Council. Brooks won reelection Tuesday night, with 96% of Philadelphia's voting precincts reporting. O'Rourke, a pastor and organizer, was projected Wednesday morning to edge out Republican Jim Hasher by less than 5,000 votes in the race for the final at-large office. The second Republican in the race, Drew Murray, trailed Hasher by about 500 votes.

2023 ELECTION RESULTS: Cherelle Parker wins mayor's election, becomes Philly's 100th mayor and first woman to lead city | O'Neill, Gauthier retain council seats; Dems win Pa. statewide judicial races

This is the first time in Philadelphia history that Republicans failed to capture at least one of the minority seats. Hasher, a realtor, and Murray, a sales manager, both conceded the race Wednesday. 

Democrats Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore-Richardson and Jim Harrity were each reelected, and Nina Ahmad and Rue Landau were newly elected to council. Landau, a housing attorney, will be the first LGBTQ member of City Council and Ahmad will be the governing body's first South Asian member. 

All election results are unofficial until certified by election officials.

As mandated by the city's 1951 home rule charter, two of the seven at-large City Council seats must go to a minority party, meaning the majority Democrats can only hold up to five seats. Republicans historically have occupied the reserved positions, though in 2019, Brooks won one of the minority seats, becoming the first WFP candidate elected to City Council.

The Republicans entered Tuesday in the perilous position of potentially losing all representation on City Council. Republican Brian O'Neill, who has served Northeast Philly's 10th District since 1980, won his election Tuesday night against Democrat Gary Masino. He'll be the lone Republican on City Council.

As opposed to district councilmembers, who are elected by the residents in the geographic districts the politicians represent, the at-large members are voted on by the entire city. On Tuesday at the polls, voters could choose up to five candidates for the at-large seats. Nine candidates ran, including four incumbents.

Along with Brooks, the other incumbents are Democrats Gilmore Richardson, Jim Harrity and Isaiah Thomas. Harrity took office in 2022 after winning a special election to fill one of the at-large seats left vacant by former councilmembers who had resigned to run for mayor. Brooks, Thomas and Gilmore Richardson have all served one four-year term.

Senior staff writer Michael Tanenbaum contributed to this article.

Follow Kristin & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @kristin_hunt | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice
Have a news tip? Let us know.