Philadelphia City Hall

Philadelphia City Council will gain four new members, following a set of special elections prompted by a recent wave of resignations in advance of the mayoral race next year.

The four apparent winners on Tuesday — Quetcy Lozada in District 7, Anthony Phillips in District 9, and Sharon Vaughn and Jim Harrity for the two at-large seats — are all Democrats who led their opponents by double digits in the vote count as of early Wednesday morning.

They replace four fellow Democrats who stepped down from Council earlier this year: Maria Quiñones Sánchez, Cherelle Parker, Allan Domb, and Derek Green. All but Domb have explicitly declared their intentions to run for mayor in 2023. (By Philadelphia law, city officials must resign their current office before running for another.)

For one at-large position, Vaughn — a Feltonville resident and ward leader who spent 33 years working in city government — led with 79.5% of the vote as of Wednesday around 1 a.m., with 96% of divisions reporting the in-person vote and at least 50,000 mail ballots left to be counted citywide. Her opponents, Republican Jim Hasher and Libertarian Marc Jurchak, had garnered 18.8% and 1.5% of the tallied votes, respectively.

“I am truly grateful for this unique opportunity,” Vaughn said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the constituents of the city of Philadelphia as best I possibly can.”

Some top-of-mind issues for Vaughn as she assumes the role will be tackling crime, addressing the opioid epidemic, and creating paths for more young to join unions so they can get stable jobs that can help to keep them out of poverty, she told Billy Penn.

Vaughn will assume one of the two positions vacated by Domb and Vaughn’s most recent boss, Green.

With 154 of 160 divisions reporting in District 9, Phillips — the longtime executive director at leadership development nonprofit Youth Action — captured 88% of the vote in District 9, beating out Republican candidate Roslyn Ross of Mt. Airy (who received 8.4% of votes) and Libertarian candidate Yusuf Jackson (3.3%).

In his district’s council seat, Phillips wants to work collaboratively with constituents to address quality of life and public safety issues, all while advocating for working class families, he said — and in particular, youth.

Phillips credits his mother — a single parent of two — and his grandmother, a sharecropper, for “creating a village” in his life as a young person to support him and allow him to succeed. He hopes to pursue policies that similarly invest in youth and their neighborhoods, he said, and by extension, the future of the city.

“My life has a lot to do with the fact that a village was there for me,” Phillips said. “And so I’m going to City Council to help us develop a village so that our communities can grow stronger.”

Lozada, an organizer with faith-based community nonprofit Esperanza and Quiñones Sánchez’s former chief of staff, took 84.1% of the vote in District 7 with 148 of 156 precincts reporting — besting Republican candidate James Whitehead of Frankford (13.6%) and Libertarian candidate Randall J. Justus (2%).

Once sworn in, Lozada is looking to work with the School District of Philadelphia to ensure that school buildings are physically safe for children and to support teachers, she said. Also on her list of top issues are ensuring affordable housing availability in her district and collaborating with police captains on the ground to work toward solutions to reduce crime.

“I’m super excited that the residents of the 7th Council District have selected me to be their voice in city government,” Lozada said. “I’m committed to working for them every day … I’m gonna show up and I’m gonna work hard.”

For the other at-large seat, Harrity, a political director for the Pa. Democratic Party and former aide to state Sen. Sharif Street, led with 78.65% of the vote early Wednesday morning, compared with a respective 18.9% and 2.3% of tallied votes earned by his opponents, Republican Drew Murray and Libertarian Poetica Bey.

The four councilmembers-elect will take office later this month, per Joe Grace, spokesperson for City Council President Darrell Clarke, who did not specify a specific date.

Each of the four leading candidates was handpicked by Democratic ward leadership prior to the election, rather than going through the primary process that’s used during regular elections. They’ll have to run for reelection in the crowded May primary if they want to continue past the end of their predecessors’ terms in December 2023.

Asha Prihar is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She has previously written for several daily newspapers across the Midwest, and she covered Pennsylvania state government and politics for The...