Nina Ahmad is a 2023 Democratic candidate for Philadelphia City Council at-large. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Nina Ahmad, a scientist by trade who’s been involved in politics, government, and activism for about two decades, is one of five Democratic candidates for City Council’s seven at-large seats.

Ahmad, a Mt. Airy resident in her 60s, moved to Philly in 1983 to earn a chemistry PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. She’s been a medical fellow at Thomas Jefferson University and has worked as a molecular biologist. She’s also led both the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania chapters of the National Organization for Women. Per campaign filings from the spring primary, Ahmad’s chief source of income is JNA Capital, a finance consulting company for development and real estate in which she holds a 49% stake.

Ahmad has run for statewide office twice: in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor in 2018, and as the Democratic nominee for auditor general in 2020. She lost both bids.

Her start in politics began earlier, when she got involved with Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. Ahmad’s political resume eventually grew to also include a stint as the chair of Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs, a spot on President Barack Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and deputy mayor for public engagement under Mayor Jim Kenney. 

All of the at-large Council candidates

Choose a candidate below to learn more about them, or get an overview of how November’s Council election is playing out.

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

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.

Ahmad is a non-incumbent, who clinched one of the five Democratic nominations in a field of 27 candidates. Since 75% of Philadelphia voters are registered Democrats, she and the other four Democratic candidates are considered likely to win seats.

If elected, Ahmad — who grew up in Bangladesh — would become the first South Asian American to ever serve on Council, and her immigrant background would be rare among councilmembers of the past several decades.

Ahmad’s overarching plans for Council include making Philadelphia “a healthier, stronger city” and using her scientific background to inform her approach to legislating.

She’s listed her top three policy priorities as addressing gun violence as a “public health epidemic,” turning Philly into a “national model for community and mental health,” and “putting the environment front and center.”

Ahmad’s campaign finance situation

Much of Ahmad’s campaign has been self-funded. She triggered the city’s “millionaire’s amendment” shortly before the May primary by contributing more than $250,000 to her own campaign. She’s lent her campaign a total of $411,500 this year, according to her most recent campaign finance filing.

Aside from herself, Ahmad’s biggest contributors this year include several labor unions and the Indian American Impact Fund. Ahmad’s political committee, Nina For Philly, raised around $77k and spent around $61k between early June and mid-September. It has a cash balance of about $25,700 as of mid-September.

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...