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Good citizenship includes participation in government

On May 17th, we will be choosing candidates for the election in November. You can find important information about the candidates and ballot questions here on the Philadelphia City Commissioners’ website.

Open Wards Philly is an effort led by current and former committee people and ward leaders to create a better ward system. Learn more on their website. You can join their Facebook group to stay up-to-date on events and meetings, and if you are interested in serving your community, they provide how-to-run resources

When We All Vote is a national non-partisan organization working to close the voting age and race gap. Launched by Michelle Obama in 2018, When We All Vote campaigns for voter education, registration, and volunteer engagement to change the culture around voting. They offer a list of ways you can take action today to help strengthen democracy through participation. 


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A toolkit for better citizenship

One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia—whether you want to hold a voter registration drive, get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

Vote and strengthen democracy

Stand up for marginalized communities

Create a cleaner, greener Philadelphia

Help our local youth and schools succeed

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Cheat Sheet

Get the lowdown on this story

  • The deadline for getting on the ballot in the May 17th primary has passed, and about 22 percent fewer Democratic candidates and about 30 percent fewer Republican candidates are running for ward committee person.
  • There are more than twice as many open seats in 2022 than there were in 2018
  • While the candidate list is not finalized as some challenges to petitions are working their way to the courts, there will be several competitive races between Democratic candidates in Wards 1 and 2 (Bella Vista, Queen Village, Passyunk), 15 (Fairmount and Francisville), 21 (Roxborough and Manayunk), 22 (Germantown and Mt. Airy), 43 (Franklinville and Hunting Park), and 46 (University City/Baltimore Ave out to Cobbs Creek).  
  • All of this data signals that despite important statewide elections for the US Senate and governor this year,  there might be a dip in voter turnout, especially since there are many voting districts with no one running and consequently fewer Get-Out-The-Vote activities.
  • However, while there are many divisions where no one filed to run for the two available Democratic or just a single candidate filed, that means that even if you missed the deadline, you can still run a write-in campaign for yourself and win with as little as one vote! Check the candidate list to see if there are any openings in your neighborhood.



What We Know About 2022’s Ward Elections

The bad news, according to Philly 3.0’s engagement director? Too many vacancies remain. The good news? You can easily write yourself in to victory.

What We Know About 2022’s Ward Elections

The bad news, according to Philly 3.0’s engagement director? Too many vacancies remain. The good news? You can easily write yourself in to victory.

Now that we’re past the filing deadline for people to submit nominating petitions to get on the ballot for ward committee person seats in the upcoming primary on May 17, the city commissioners have released the preliminary list of candidates who filed to run and there are some interesting trends there worth examining.

Candidates had a chance to draw ballot positions last week and those are now published on the commissioners’ website. The list isn’t finalized yet because petition challenges are still working through the courts through EOD Tuesday.

Petitions challenge hearings began Friday at City Hall, and the Court of Common Pleas judges still need to rule on some key legal questions that could affect large numbers of challenged petitions that had similar issues related to the candidate affidavit section.

The 2022 committee person races are a little less lively than in 2018, with about 735 fewer candidates running on the Democratic side, and a proportionately lower number running on the Republican side, too.

Philadelphia’s 1,703 voting divisions can elect a maximum of 3,406 committee people in each political party, but this year there are quite a few more divisions with nobody running. That’s concerning from the perspective of anyone hoping for higher voter turnout in Philadelphia in the upcoming statewide elections for governor and U.S. Senate, since it means there will be fewer elected party supporters on the ground who are explicitly tasked with get-out-the-vote activities.

Due to the 5:1 voter registration edge Democrats have over Republicans in Philadelphia, most of the intrigue around city ward elections is on the Democratic side, and that’s also our focus at the moment.

The city commissioners’ preliminary list features 2,760 Democratic candidates, but they aren’t evenly spread between the 1,703 voting divisions. Some divisions have competitive races with several people running, while others have no one at all. Petition challenges are still working their way through the courts until March 5, so it’s important to emphasize the preliminary status of these figures, though the final stats should be in this ballpark.

There are only 170 divisions with competitive races where three or more Democratic candidates are running—about 10 percent of all divisions. There are just four divisions where five candidates have filed to run, 49 divisions with four candidates, and 116 divisions with three candidates.

Wards with notably higher numbers of competitive races include Wards 1 and 2 (Bella Vista, Queen Village, Passyunk), 15 (Fairmount and Francisville), 21 (Roxborough and Manayunk), 22 (Germantown and Mt. Airy), 43 (Franklinville and Hunting Park), and 46 (University City/Baltimore Ave out to Cobbs Creek).

There are also a lot more open seats in 2022 than in 2018. Juliana Feliciano Reyes at the Inquirer, who wrote a fascinating story this week analyzing what voter file data says about Philadelphia’s committee people, reports that there were around 400 open seats in the 2018 election, while in 2022 there are about 877.

There are 285 voting divisions where nobody filed to run for either of the two available Democratic committee seats, and 307 divisions where only one candidate filed to run.

Wards with especially high numbers of open seats include Wards 3, 4, 5, 8, 11, 13, 24, 25, 27, 36, 41, 42, 48, 54, 56, 58, 60, and 61.

People who are interested in running to represent an open seat can check out the current list of candidates here and see if there are any openings where you live. It’s easy to run a write-in campaign for yourself if there’s a vacancy, and you can win with as little as one (1) vote.

It’s best to try to get a decent number of neighbors to write your name in just in case anybody else in your voting division has the same idea, and Philadelphia 3.0 will be sharing more information in future newsletters walking people through how this works.

Send an email at [email protected] or text 3.0’s ward elections help desk number at 215-770-1118 if you’re interested in talking about petition challenges, open seats and write-in campaigns, or you have any general questions.

Jon Geeting is the director of engagement at Philadelphia 3.0, a political action committee that supports efforts to reform and modernize City Hall. This is part of a series of articles running on both The Citizen and 3.0’s blog.


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