Incumbents survive in two contested district council races

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson celebrates his victory. (TOM GRALISH / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

FOR ALL THE bluster, blather and bad blood the only two contested district City Council primary races generated, the results ended up just like the eight uncontested district races.

The winners and still future incumbents are: 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and 7th District Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez.

Last night's victories all but guarantee that Johnson and Sanchez will be re-elected in November because neither has an opponent in the general election.

In the 2nd District, which includes Point Breeze and parts of Center City, South and Southwest Philly, Johnson, 41, held off a spirited challenge from self-financed businessman Ori Feibush, 31.

The rivals clashed over just about everything, especially development, with Feibush embracing the word "gentrification" and all that it entails, including advocating that the city sell off its vacant lots to developers. Johnson pushed back, arguing that he does not support development that would displace longtime residents.

Johnson's message resonated louder, apparently. With more than 97 percent of the votes counted, the incumbent won 14,680 votes, or 62.7 percent, to Feibush's 8,734 votes, or 37.3 percent, according to city election figures.

"I'm a strong advocate of smart development," Johnson said last night. "Though I want development, we also have to make sure that we invest in smart development, meaning affordable housing, workforce housing, senior housing, market-rate housing. . . . That's always been my platform. I think it's an inclusive agenda."

Feibush, who said he spent all of his money on his campaign, said he won every part of the district except Point Breeze. He called Johnson to offer congratulations.

"It's obviously disappointing. I put everything I had into this race. I fought every single day. I knocked on door after door. I went to meet-and-greet after meet-and-greet. I did all that I could do," said Feibush, who founded a realty company, community-development organization and three coffee shops in the district.

In the 7th District, which includes Frankford, Kensington, Hunting Park and part of North Philly, two-term Councilwoman Sanchez beat back challenger Manny Morales by less than 1,000 votes.

The councilwoman won 6,492, or 53.7 percent to Morales' 5,589 votes, or 46.3 percent with 99 percent of the votes counted, according to city figures.

The testy race got even uglier after Sanchez released a batch of Facebook posts allegedly from Morales' page in which he made anti-black, gay and immigrant remarks. Morales denied making the remarks and said his computer had been hacked.

"This was a very ugly, divisive race, and we deserve better," said Sanchez, who won without being endorsed by city Democrats for the third time.

Johnny Morales, speaking for his brother, Manny, said: "My brother ran a tough race against a two-term incumbent and lost by less than 1,000 votes. It just shows that the community has spoken and they decided to stay with the incumbent. But it sends the message that she has to work with the community more."


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