Does that mass of at-large City Council candidates have you in a muddle?

AtLargeCandidates
Candidates for at-large seats: Helen Gym, Paul Steinke and Allan Domb.

OK, SO THE PRIMARY election is looming and you don't know who is running for City Council. Don't worry. The Daily News has you covered.

Here's a handy thumbnail of the army of Democratic and Republican candidates who are vying to fill just seven at-large Council seats. Voters from across the city can vote for at-large candidates. But, since this is a primary election, registered Democrats may only vote for Democrats. Republican voters, likewise. Each may vote for five candidates.

Two of the seven seats are reserved for the minority party, which for the last six decades or so has been the Republicans. That means the Democrats will likely grab five of the seven seats.

And wow, there are 16 Democrats vying for the five seats. Of the 16, four are incumbents - Blondell Reynolds Brown, Wilson Goode Jr., Bill Greenlee and Ed Neilson.

There are seven Republicans vying for those two minority seats (although in theory they could win five seats and become the majority party, but that isn't happening). Incumbents Dennis O'Brien and David Oh hope to retain their seats.

Let's start with the Democrats:

Wilson Alexander

This is Wilson Alexander's second bid for Council. He ran unsuccessfully in 2007. A lifelong city resident and longtime community activist, he served as campaign field director and press secretary for the late state Sen. Hardy Williams. He currently sits on the board of directors of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project and serves as deacon of Christ Haven Pentecostal Church. A graduate of West Philadelphia High School, Alexander lives with his wife, Ethel Marteena Session-Alexander, in Eastwick.

Jenne Ayers

Jenne Ayers, the daughter of former city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers, describes herself as "a tireless advocate for marginalized and vulnerable people." At 26, just a year older than the city's minimum age to run for Council, this is her first bid for public office. She served as president of the Philadelphia NAACP Youth Council and spearheaded a tutoring service for elementary school students in North Philly. She's a graduate of Masterman High School and Harvard College. She is currently enrolled at Yale Law School.

Blondell Reynolds Brown

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is seeking a fifth term on Council. Brown has championed legislation that requires the Phillies and Eagles to contribute $1 million a year for 30 years to a Fund for Children, mandates that chain restaurants provide menu labeling with nutritional and calorie information, and compels landlords to test older properties for lead paint and disclose results to new tenants. She graduated from Girls High and earned a bachelor's and master's degree in education from Penn State. In 2013, the city Board of Ethics hit Brown and her campaign with a $48,834 fine for ethic violations, which included dipping into campaign funds to repay a loan.

Carla Cain

Carla Cain touts herself as a "woman with drive, diligence and a true gift for activism." She grew up in Logan and graduated from Northeast High School. Cain earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Cheyney University and a master's in government from Strayer University. She became a self-described "activist" after "experiencing the trauma of the murders of three nephews on the streets of Philadelphia." She is active with the Harambee Christian Outreach Mission, a North Philly nonprofit that provides help to low-income families. Carla and her husband, Malcolm, live in East Mount Airy.

Sherrie Cohen

This is Sherrie Cohen's second run for Council. She is the only non-incumbent to receive the Democratic City Committee's endorsement. Cohen, the daughter of the late Councilman David Cohen, is an attorney with the Philadelphia Tenant Union Representative Network, which represents vulnerable tenants. She grew up in Olney, where she still lives with her partner, Virginia Gutierrez. She graduated from Girls High and then attended Penn. She studied law at St. Thomas University School of Law and currently serves as vice chair of the state Democratic Committee's LGBT caucus.

Allan Domb

Allan Domb, known as the "Condo King," is a successful developer and real estate broker. He studied finance and business at American University and later opened his own real estate firm. Domb, who resides in Rittenhouse Square, is president of the Philadelphia Association of Realtors and currently serves on the board of the Center City District. He has pledged to donate his Council salary to the public schools and revamp the city's tax system to increase job creation. Earlier this month, Domb donated more than $250,000 of his own money to his campaign, triggering the city's so-called "millionaire's provision," which doubled the contribution limits for all at-large Council candidates.

Wilson Goode Jr.

Wilson Goode Jr. hopes to win a fifth term on Council, though back in 2010, he introduced a bill, which wasn't embraced by fellow Council members, to put a three-term limit on consecutive terms for City Council. Goode, the son of the city's first black mayor, has cast himself as an advocate for the city's poorest residents, for jobs creation, minority hiring standards and decent wages. Last year, Goode successfully ushered in a law requiring certain city contractors and subcontractors to pay their workers at least $12 an hour. This year, Council passed Goode's bill to give tax credits to companies that create city jobs. Goode, who lives in West Philly, graduated from Central High School and Penn. Prior to joining Council in 2000, he worked as an economic development professional.

Derek Green

Derek Green, the longtime special counsel to soon-to-retire 9th District Councilwoman Marian Tasco, made a failed bid for Council in 2007. Prior to working for Tasco for 11 years, Green was a deputy city solicitor and an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, and an assistant deputy attorney general in Delaware. He also served as counsel to the Council committees on Finance and Public Health and Human Services. Green and his wife, Sheila, live in Mount Airy with their son, Julian. Each year, Green and his wife raise money to help children with autism like their son. Green is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Temple Law School.

Bill Greenlee

A top White House official recently hailed the incumbent councilman as a "rock star" for his unrelenting and successful push for earned paid sick leave for employees working at companies with more than 10 employees. Earlier this month, Greenlee sponsored a bill, at Mayor Nutter's request, to make sure property owners, who use websites like Airbnb to rent out their homes, pay the city's existing hotel tax. He also has championed measures to protect the rights of nursing mothers and victims of domestic violence. He is a lifelong resident of Fairmount. He's been on Council since 2006. He graduated from St. Joseph's Prep and Temple University.

Helen Gym

Helen Gym, a former elementary school teacher, is known for her fiery advocacy on behalf of the city's public schools, though she had co-founded in 2005 a K-8 charter school, FACTS, or Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures. Gym, who lives in Logan Square, also co-founded the Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Parents United for Public Education, which advocates for more public school funding, resources and accountability. She is a mother of three children who attend public magnet schools. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers endorsed Gym and its PAC contributed $11,500 to her campaign. She serves on the board of Asian Americans United, a community group focused on education, youth leadership, neighborhood development and immigrant rights. Gym is a graduate of Penn.

Marnie Aument-Loughrey

Marnie Aument-Loughrey was born and raised in Kensington, where she still lives, serving as president of the Kensington Independent Civic Association. She sits on the board of the Kensington Businessman's Association and is a member of the 25th Police District Advisory Council. Loughrey, a single mom of two grown children, had worked at the city's Board of Revision of Taxes. She is the daughter of Donna Aument, a longtime Democratic ward leader. She has run unsuccessfully for Philadelphia Traffic Court (2013 and 2011), Council (2007) and the state House of Representatives (2000).

Ed Neilson

Neilson is Council's newest incumbent. He won a seat last year in a special election to fill the vacancy of Bill Green, who was tapped by then-Gov. Tom Corbett to serve as chairman of the School Reform Commission. Prior to joining Council, Neilson held a seat in the state House. Neilson, who lives in Northeast Philly, graduated from Lincoln High School in 1981. He then worked as an electrician and became an officer in IBEW Local 98, the local electricians union run by John Dougherty. The union heavily backed Neilson's Council bid. He introduced legislation earlier this year that would require employees at all Philadelphia hotels to be trained to recognize signs of human trafficking.

Frank S. Rizzo

Frank Rizzo, the son of the late former police commissioner and mayor, Frank L. Rizzo, hopes to return to Council, where he previously served for 16 years as a Republican. He switched parties in 2013 in anticipation of a run for mayor in this year's election. He changed his mind, however, and announced a surprise bid for Council late last year. He lost his Council seat in the Republican primary in 2011. The defeat came in the wake of his decision to enter the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan, under which he received a lump-sum payment from his city pension. Rizzo has said he regrets that decision. He graduated from Archbishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote and worked for the Philadelphia Electric Company for 32 years. He lives in Chestnut Hill with his wife, Deborah, and his mother, Carmella.

Paul Steinke

Paul Steinke is perhaps best-known as general manager of the Reading Terminal Market, a position he held for 13 years. During his tenure, Steinke was widely credited with turning the market into a major tourist destination. He directed the market's $4 million renovation and expansion. Prior to that, Steinke founded the University City District and worked as its executive director. He also served as director of finance and administration for the Center City District. Steinke is active in the city's historic-preservation community and has been a passionate advocate and community leader on LGBT issues. He lives in West Philly with David Ade, his partner of 19 years. Steinke graduated from Northeast High School and has a degree in business and economics from Penn State.

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas, a charter school dean and adjunct professor at Lincoln University, ran unsuccessfully for Council in 2011 at age 26. Thomas, who has said that his top priorities are education, jobs and public safety, hopes to win this time with the blessing of some political heavyweights, including former Mayor John Street. Thomas works at Sankofa Freedom Academy, a K-12 charter in Frankford, where he is a teacher, associate dean and athletic director. He is also president of the Public League Basketball Coaches Association. (He's not related to NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.) He founded the Isaiah Thomas Annual Summer Basketball Camp and Philly Roots Inc., a coalition of black leaders. He lives in East Oak Lane with his fiancee, Klissa Jarrett, and their 2-year-old son. He graduated from Frankford High School, Penn State and Lincoln University, where he earned a master's in education.

Tom Wyatt

Tom Wyatt, a former public school teacher in the Mississippi Delta, is a partner at the Dilworth Paxson law firm. He oversees legal cases that involve public offerings, acquisitions, dispositions and transition matters. He serves as chairman of the education committee for the Passyunk Square Civic Association. Prior to joining Dilworth Paxson, Wyatt was SEC counsel at the South Jersey-based American Water Works Company, where he led the ethics-and-compliance team. He lives in South Philly with his wife, Sarah, and two children. He earned degrees from Colorado State University and the University of California-Berkeley law school.

 

Now for the seven Republican candidates.

Dennis M. O'Brien

O'Brien is running for a second term without the endorsement of his party. The lifelong Philadelphian spent more than 30 years in the state House, where he served as speaker in 2007-08, before being elected to Council in November 2011. While on Council, one of the first laws O'Brien sponsored established a protocol to inventory, inspect, secure, mark and track large vacant commercial and industrial properties. The law is a response to the 2012 York Street fire that killed two city firefighters.

David Oh

Oh, like O'Brien, is finishing his first term. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he worked as an assistant district attorney, a lawyer in private practice and served in the U.S. Army before going into politics. He is the first Asian-American elected to Council. Oh's bills that became law include one that gives employers tax credits for hiring veterans and another that increases penalties for defacing war memorials, monuments and public art. Despite being an incumbent, Oh, like O'Brien, was not endorsed by the Republican City Committee. Oh and his wife, Heesun, have three children, Hannah, Joshua and Daniel. They live in Southwest Philly.

Al Taubenberger

Al Taubenberger has become a fixture in city government and politics without ever holding office. He was the Republican candidate for mayor in 2007, losing big to Michael Nutter. In 2011, he ran for an at-large seat on Council, narrowly losing to Oh. Taubenberger, a married father of four, has been director of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce since 1991. Prior to that, he was an aide to Council members Joan L. Krajewski and Jack Kelly, and U.S. Rep. Charles Dougherty.

Dan Tinney

Dan Tinney, at 33, is among the youngest candidates vying for a seat. He's said that he wants to help make Philadelphia a major energy hub. He grew up in a largely blue-collar family from the Northeast's Millbrook section. He told the Daily News in January that his top priorities also include: "Business development. Job creation. Infrastructure." Tinney, earlier this year, was critical of Council President Darrell Clarke's decision to not hold hearings on the proposed sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to UIL Holdings of Connecticut, which would have netted almost $2 billion for the city's pension fund.

Terry Tracy

Terry Tracy, a former executive at Ralph Lauren, is making his second run at public office after having come up short for city controller in 2013. Tracy is the GOP at-large Council candidate to get the endorsement and funding of Philly 3.0, a nonprofit committee whose contributions are not limited by campaign-finance laws and whose source of cash can remain secret. He's also gotten the nod from the unions that represent the city's police officers and firefighters, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, District Council 47 and the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, among others.

James Williams

Running for James Williams is natural. But running for elective office is something new. The head track coach at Cheyney University is making his first attempt at elective office. A native and resident of Cedarbrook, James is the 50th Ward Republican leader. Last year he served as campaign manager for Armond James, the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd District. Though unsuccessful, James was the first Philadelphia Republican Congressional candidate to be endorsed by the Inquirer since the 1950s, according to Williams' campaign website. Williams holds a history degree from Cabrini College, where he set 13 school track records. He has also coached there, at West Chester University and Gwynedd Mercy University.

Matt Wolfe

Last year, Matt Wolfe won the Republican nomination to run in a special election to fill the Council seat vacated by Bill Green, losing to Neilson. Wolfe, chairman of the University City Republican Committee and 27th Ward Republican leader, is endorsed by the Inquirer for a second time. The attorney, who has pledged to fight tax increases, runs his own law firm. Previously, in Harrisburg, he served as deputy attorney general and chief counsel for the Department of Labor and Industry.

 


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