Jeffery "Jay" Young. (Young campaign)

Attorney Jeffery “Jay” Young is the sole candidate on the ballot running for the District 5 Council seat representing parts of Center City and North Philly. The position is open because Council President Darrell Clarke, who has held the seat for 24 years, is not seeking reelection.

Young, 37, has some experience in the district, which among other neighborhoods covers Callowhill, Spring Garden, Fairmount, Francisville, Hunting Park, Fairhill, and a snippet of Fishtown. 

He was a lawyer in Clarke’s office from 2013 to 2019, working on zoning and community development issues and helping constituents with real estate matters, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was also in private practice at the time, and subsequently joined a law firm where he works on real estate, estate planning, and regulatory compliance.

He previously had internships with the Managing Director’s Office, Councilmember Curtis Jones, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, and the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, and briefly worked for the Register of Wills. He’s been on the Mayor’s Commission on African-American Males and the board of Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation.

Six other people initially sought the nomination for the District 5 seat. But all of them other than Young waited to start collecting signatures until Clarke’s announcement that he wasn’t running again, which came  pretty late — just two weeks before a filing deadline. 

The other contenders, including the person who was considered Clarke’s handpicked successor, either didn’t collect enough valid signatures, or lost other legal challenges to their filing petitions, 

That leaves Young as the only person in the race (other than possible write-in candidates). There are no Republican challengers.

Young’s agenda includes pushing to put therapists and social workers in city schools and mandate “critical thinking [and] conflict resolution” for students, according to his campaign website. If elected, he says he would advocate for public safety reforms such as “resource-based sentencing and supervision” — which holds that a judge should regularly meet with defendants, instead of just to mete out punishment — and community policing.

He also mentions as priorities gun violence prevention programs, community engagement by city agencies, help for people starting businesses, improved access to capital for marginalized communities, development planning for the district, and better healthcare access.

In 2016 Young was involved in a controversial sale of city-owned properties near Temple University to Shawn Bullard, a real estate developer and former NFL linebacker, for well below the appraised value, the Inquirer reported.

The Inquirer reported that Young has a decade-old history of offensive social media posts insulting women, Asian Americans, and other groups. He also lamented “a war on cars and parking in Philly,” disparaged urbanist policies, and criticized SEPTA, bike lanes and dense housing, the paper reported.

“I tweeted a lot of stuff back then,” Young told the paper, “not knowing what my future would be.”

Young’s campaign finance situation

Young has received four campaign contributions this year, according to the city’s campaign filing system: $100 from the 28th Ward Democratic Executive Committee, $2,500 from Greenberg Traurig Pennsylvania PAC, $2,000 from Comcast’s PAC, and $2,600 from Steamfitters Local Union 420. Records also show an $8,000 loan to the campaign, apparently from Young.

Meir Rinde is an investigative reporter at Billy Penn covering topics ranging from politics and government to history and pop culture. He’s previously written for PlanPhilly, Shelterforce, NJ Spotlight,...