Being leader of a major U.S. city is anything but easy. Difficult as it may be, Philadelphia’s top job is in high demand.
The race to succeed term-limited Jim Kenney and become Philly’s 100th mayor is crowded. The field is full of candidates with solid experience, varied backgrounds, and a diverse array of ideas for the city’s future.
With Philly’s 7-to-1 voter registration imbalance between the two major parties, the winner of the May Democratic primary is highly likely to win in the general election this fall. Given past turnout numbers for an odd-year primary, a lead of 10,000 to 15,000 votes could boost someone to a de facto overall victory.
Who are the contenders, and what should you know about them? Consider this page your cheat sheet.
Candidates are listed in the order you’ll see them on the ballot. Tap a name to learn more about each contender.
Cherelle Parker (D)
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.
- Potential eyebrow raisers: After leaving her job on City Council, Parker took up lobbying in Harrisburg as a source of income, per her campaign. She’s listed as representing Longwood Gardens and Moore Art College, and says she’ll resign if elected.
- 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.
- Endorsements: Philadelphia Building Trades Council, SEIU Local 32BJ, IBEW Local 98, Eastern Atlantic States Council of Carpenters, AFSCME DC 33 Locals 427 and 403, Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, Philadelphia chapter of National Organization for Women, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilmember Mike Driscoll, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair Sharif Street, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, state Rep. Darisha Parker, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, state Rep. Donna Bullock, state Rep. Jose Giral, state Rep. Kevin Boyle, state Rep. Anthony Bellmon, former mayoral candidate Derek Green, former mayoral candidate Maria Quiñones Sánchez
- Vibe: A rousing motivational speaker with a sharp sense of humor.
Jimmy DeLeon (D)
Retired Judge James DeLeon, who was born and raised in West Philly, served on Philadelphia Municipal Court for 34 years and faced disciplinary issues twice. He graduated from Howard University and then later on Widener Law, spending some time working for the PHA and running his own practice.
One of DeLeon’s main objectives as mayor is to implement what he calls the Local Incident Management System (LIMS), which would create a set of processes and procedures which would be used by the city government to combat gun violence.
- Previous elected experience: Served on Municipal Court 34 years. Ran unsuccessfully for Pa. Supreme Court and Pa. Superior court.
- How long in Philly? Raised in West Philly, he now lives in Germantown.
- Big wins: After retiring from his long judge career, chaired the legal committee for the Democratic City Committee.
- Potential eyebrow raisers: A charge that DeLeon illegally misstated the timing of some contributions during his 2003 campaign for Supreme Court was eventually dismissed, but he was found guilty in 2008 of issuing a bogus “stay away order” on behalf of a friend.
- What’s his network? DeLeon is affiliated with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, worked as a safety instructor for Salvation Army, and is an active member of the Masons.
- Vibe: In his own words, a “no-shenanigans-let’s-follow-the-law-there-will-be-order-in-the-courtroom” candidate.
Rebecca Rhynhart (D)
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 status quo” and producing interactive tools to help find solutions to issues like gun violence.
- Previous elected experience: Two terms as City Controller, starting in 2018 until she resigned in October of last year.
- How long in Philly? Rhynhart grew up in the Abington suburbs, spent several years working on Wall Street, and moved back to Philly in 2008.
- Big wins: Started using the controller’s office to publish public-facing policy analysis on citywide issues, took the city to task on its confusing accounting methods, found big disparities in 911 response times by neighborhood in an audit of the Philadelphia Police Department. She’s the first woman to serve as city controller.
- Potential eyebrow raiser: Rhynhart’s most prominent endorser, former Mayor John Street, is also on her payroll. He was paid $22,000 in 2022 for compensation as a “senior advisor,” per the campaign.
- Endorsements: Former Mayor John Street, former Mayor Michael Nutter, former Mayor and former Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- Vibe: A wonk who toes the line between political outsider and government insider. Reddit’s apparent fave.
Delscia Gray (D)
There’s little information available about Gray, who filed a nominating petition with the City Commissioners in advance of the primary deadline. Her candidate affidavit indicates she lives in the Far Northeast and works as a protective services officer at the Einstein Medical Center in East Norriton, Montgomery County, part of the Jefferson Health network. There is a video on YouTube from her campaign.
Amen Brown (D)
Amen Brown is a second-term state representative, repping the 10th House District in West Philly, where he’s from. In the Pa. House, he’s shown a willingness to propose legislation unpopular with others in his party, like instituting new mandatory minimums for gun-related crimes.
Before politics, Brown was a young entrepreneur, rebounding from some of the structural harms faced by disadvantaged millennial Philadelphians. He’s also been implicated in deed fraud, and a Commonwealth Court in 2022 noted his “general irresponsibility” in failing to meet campaign residency requirements or disclose necessary financial information.
- Previous elected experience: Brown has been a state representative since 2020.
- How long in Philly? He grew up right near 56th and Market streets, part of the district he now represents.
- Big wins: There haven’t been many pieces of legislation to note with his imprimatur, but he’s shown willingness to work across the aisle on marijuana legalization and his participation in the Republican-led investigation of DA Larry Krasner.
- Potential eyebrow raisers: It’s never ideal when the city you’re hoping to lead moves to sue you and your business partner for over $30,000 due to unpaid taxes. Brown found himself in that scenario last year.
- What’s his network? A connection of import is his backing from Marty Burger, the CEO of New York’s Silverstein Properties (and NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ pal) who’s looking to expand his firm’s footprint in Philly.
- Vibe: A go-getter who’s not afraid of knocking down expectations, with a pervasive “Did I do that?” aura.
Jeff Brown (D)
The only declared candidate who has never worked in government or run for office, Jeff Brown is a fourth-generation grocer who has owned more than a dozen ShopRite and Fresh Grocer stores in the city, including seven in underserved neighborhoods.
Brown was the first candidate out with TV ads, which were funded by a super PAC. He may be best known for opposing current Mayor Jim Kenney’s sweetened beverage tax, which helps fund park and library renovations, childcare programs, and the city budget. When Brown closed one of his stores in 2019, he blamed it on the tax.
- Previous elected experience: None.
- How long in Philly? Brown lived in the Northeast as a child, grew up in the suburbs, lived in South Jersey for much of his adult life, and moved back to Philadelphia about 7 years ago. He lives in Rittenhouse Square.
- Big wins: First Lady Michelle Obama recognized Brown for his work opening grocery stores in food deserts and invited him to sit with her at the 2010 State of the Union address. He won a surprise early endorsement from the city’s largest municipal workers union.
- Potential eyebrow raisers: At the start of April, the Philly Ethics Board filed suit accusing Brown of illegally coordinating with a super PAC that’s taken and spent millions on his behalf. Earlier in the campaign, Brown faced criticism for and then deleted a campaign video that showed him hugging a young Black man who compared the candidate to god. His campaign also stopped running an ad touting the Obama connection after the former first lady’s people reached out to say she doesn’t do endorsements.
- What’s his network? Brown has served on the state’s Workforce Development Board and the boards of the Philadelphia Youth Network, Uplift Solutions, Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, PA 30 Day Fund, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Ending Racism Partnership, and ManUpPHL, among other groups.
- Endorsements: AFSCME District Council 33; United Food and Commercial Workers locals 1776, 360, and 152; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Local 108; Transport Workers Union Local 234; FOP Lodge 5; Teamsters Joint Council 53; Temple University Police Association
- Vibe: A politically savvy businessman who campaigns as a political outsider.
Warren Bloom (D)
Warren Bloom Sr. is a perennial candidate who’s previously run for city commissioner, state legislature, and traffic court. According to his campaign website, he’s worked as a music and media professional, minister, and public claims adjuster, as well as spending time as a community organizer, block captain, and volunteer.
News outlets vetting Bloom’s candidacy for traffic court a decade ago found he’d pled no contest to charges of simple assault, indecent assault, and corrupting a minor in 1992. Bloom told journalists he didn’t personally think he was guilty, but he didn’t know what the term meant and had wanted to spare the teenager “any more emotional stress.”
- Previous elected experience: None. He’s run for office at least six other times.
- How long in Philly? Bloom is a lifelong Philadelphian.
- Potential eyebrow raisers: In addition to bringing the indecent assault allegations to light during Bloom’s Traffic Court run, the press also reported on his record of…traffic violations.
- What’s his network? Bloom is a minister at Bible Ministries Fellowship Church, according to his website.
- Vibe: A showman and performer — he’s musically inclined — who doesn’t give up easily.
Allan Domb (D)
From a working-class background, former Councilmember Allan Domb, aka Philadelphia’s “Condo King,” made his name (and fortune) by buying up buildings, particularly in the area around Rittenhouse Square. Three decades into running his real estate biz, he was elected to an at-large seat on City Council, where he spent much of his time focusing on fiscal issues.
Since launching his mayoral bid, Domb’s been criss-crossing the city regularly on public transit, meeting voters in various neighborhoods. He’s spending a bunch of his own money on this race; enough to trigger the city’s “millionaire’s amendment,” which doubles the limit on individual campaign contributions.
- Previous elected experience? Two terms City Council as an at-large member, from 2016 to his resignation in August of last year.
- How long in Philly: Originally from North Jersey, Domb moved to Philly after he graduated from college in the late 1970s.
- Big wins: Pushed for cuts to the business and wage taxes to help some low-income workers, worked with local hospitality industry leaders to ease the impact of the pandemic, and (somewhat) extended the life of streeteries.
- Potential eyebrow raisers: Domb owns hundreds of properties throughout the city, which could present lots of difficult ethics questions if he’s elected. He’s said he’ll create a “firewall” for himself when it comes to conflicts of interest, and step down from direct management if elected.
- What’s his network? Domb was an early investor in Starr Restaurants, the group that owns Parc, Continental, and others. He has been president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors, and served on the board of Friends of Rittenhouse Square.
- Endorsements: Philly Forward PAC, Former Mayor Bill Green, Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors
- Vibe: A business exec frustrated with others not governing well enough, and decided he’d better just do it himself.
Helen Gym (D)
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.
- Potential eyebrow raisers: Gym’s husband, lawyer Bret Flaherty, works for pharma company AmerisourceBergen, and in 2019 she voted against a bill that would’ve required drug salespeople to register with the city. She also apologized for attending a Union League event days after denouncing the private club for honoring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
- 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: Reclaim Philadelphia, Working Families Party, API PA, Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks, Amistad Movement Power, Free the Ballot, Straight Ahead, One Pennsylvania, Make the Road Action, Sierra Club (southeastern Pa. chapter), Grid Magazine, Jane Fonda Climate PAC, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, AFT Pennsylvania, United Academics of Philadelphia, Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia, Temple Association of University Professionals, Temple University Graduate Students’ Association, AFSCME District Council 47, UNITE HERE Philadelphia, Teamsters BMWED, Councilmember Kendra Brooks, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, state Sen. Nikil Saval, state Rep. Liz Fiedler, state Rep. Rick Krajewski, state Rep. Tarik Khan, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
- Vibe: A fiery progressive activist who’s been referred to as “Philly’s AOC.”
David Oh (R)
David Oh is the only Republican in the race. He was in his third term as an at-large council member when he resigned in February to launch his campaign. He previously worked as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, served in the National Guard, and started a solo law practice that merged with a larger firm. He grew up in Cobbs Creek and continues to live there with his family.
Oh is known for bucking the local GOP and winning reelection without party endorsement, although it is now supporting his mayoral run. He tried to shut down the Republican-dominated Philadelphia Parking Authority and sought an audit of the agency. He tried to repeal the city’s soda tax, joined Asian-American business owners in fighting a bill targeting stop-and-go liquor stores, authored legislation to make it harder for illegal squatters to take over homes, and investigated DHS guidelines for reporting child abuse.
- Previous elected experience: Nearly three terms on council as an at-large member, from 2012 to 2023.
- How long in Philly? The 62-year-old Oh was born in Cobbs Creek and lives there now.
- Big wins: He was the city’s first Asian-American office-holder. He touts his job creation efforts, including chairing committee to promote the arts community and international investment in the city, and his creation of an initiative for aspiring local musicians. He help organize a successful lawsuit by Chinese restaurant owners who alleged they were targeted for selective enforcement of a rule on business opening hours.
- Potential eyebrow raisers: He was arrested in the 1990s for firing a gun in the air to scare off a group of people near his home. He was accused of misleadingly claiming he was a Green Beret, and later fined for accepting an illegal campaign contribution. DHS investigated after Oh’s son was injured while they practiced judo together.
- What’s his network? Much of Oh’s work focuses on small business owners, artists, immigrant communities, law enforcement, and veterans. He’s served on the boards of The Welcoming Center, Friends of the Korean War Memorial at Penn’s Landing, the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, First Commercial Bank of Philadelphia, and the Christian Street YMCA, among many others.
- Endorsements: Republican City Committee, former governor Tom Ridge, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castile, Log Cabin Republicans.
- Vibe: A dogged, independent voice who isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers.
Updated May 4