Working Families Party candidate Nicholas O'Rourke in 2019. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Nicolas O’Rourke, a pastor and political organizer, is one of two Working Families Party candidates vying for City Council’s seven at-large seats.

O’Rourke, a West Philadelphia resident in his mid-30s, spent much of his childhood in Trenton as well as Ohio, Florida, and Indiana, per the Inquirer. He’s been a pastor at Living Water United Church of Christ in Oxford Circle for almost a decade, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He also has a background in organizing around issues like racial justice and mass incarceration. O’Rourke has organized with POWER, an interfaith group of Pennsylvania congregations “committed to racial and economic justice on a livable planet.” 

O’Rourke has also served as the organizing director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Working Families Party, a left-wing minor political party that has chapters across the country and has been working to gain a solid foothold in Philly.

At-large City Councilmembers are elected every four years, and this year, just three of the seven candidates are incumbents who’ve served for more than a year. That’s because four at-large members resigned to run for mayor in the spring primary.

All of the at-large Council candidates

Choose a candidate below to learn more about them. Read about how November’s Council election is playing out here.

Nina Ahmad

Kendra Brooks
Incumbent, Working Families Party

Katherine Gilmore Richardson
Incumbent, Democrat

Jim Harrity
Incumbent, Democrat

Jim Hasher

Rue Landau

Drew Murray

Nicholas O’Rourke
Working Families Party

Isaiah Thomas
Incumbent, Democrat

 Since 75% of Philadelphia voters are registered Democrats, the five Democratic at-large candidates on the ballot are considered likely to win. But there are seven total spots — meaning that at least two seats are basically guaranteed for non-Democrats.

This isn’t O’Rourke’s first bid for one of those seats. He also vied for an at-large spot in 2019, when he finished ninth. (His fellow WFP candidate Kendra Brooks managed to place sixth and win a seat.)

This year, O’Rourke and Brooks are once again running alongside each other, in an attempt to box Republicans out of the at-large seats. The pair has collected endorsements from some Democratic politicians, including U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, state Sen. Nikil Saval, state Rep. Rick Krajewski, and state Rep. Chris Rabb.

As a councilmember, O’Rourke would look to “implement aggressive solutions to improve the present and push for a better future,” per his campaign website. 

Some of his top priorities include creating “an economy that supports families,” developing new affordable housing, and eliminating gun violence. He also lists fighting systemic racism, building a “just criminal justice system” that increases rehabilitation, protecting reproductive rights, and reducing the impact of climate change on his platform.

O’Rourke’s campaign finance situation

Friends of O’Rourke garnered over $146,600 in monetary contributions from early June to mid-September, per the most recent campaign finance report. The campaign spent around $66,100 during that period, ending with a cash balance of almost $213,500 going into the final month-and-a-half stretch. The fundraising numbers outpace those of O’Rourke’s 2019 run.

Top campaign contributors over the course of 2023 include the Pennsylvania Working Families Party, SEIU 32 BJ, and The People for Jarrett Smith.

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...