Just two of 10 City Council district seats are being contested

Kenyatta Johnson (right) and Ori Feibush (left) are vying for 2nd. (JOSEPH KACZMAREK / FOR THE DAILY NEWS)

WHILE 23 CANDIDATES are on the May 19 ballot seeking seven at-large City Council seats, just two out of 10 district Council races are contested affairs.

These council incumbents have no primary challengers: Mark Squilla, Jannie Blackwell, Curtis Jones Jr., Darrell Clarke, Bobby Henon, Cindy Bass and Brian O'Neill. In the soon-to-be vacant 9th District, Democrat Cherelle Parker and Republican Kevin Strickland are running unopposed for their parties' nominations.

Here's a look at the candidates running in the contested races in the 2nd District, which includes parts of Center City, South and Southwest Philly, and the 7th District, which includes Frankford, Kensington and Hunting Park.

 

Kenyatta Johnson

 

Johnson is as native a son to Point Breeze as there can be. He was born and raised there and now resides there with his wife, Dawn Chavous, and their 7-month-old son, Isaiah.

Chavous is a top aide to mayoral candidate Anthony Hardy Williams. Isaiah stars in Johnson's TV campaign commercial.

Johnson, 41, a former state representative, is no stranger to tough races. During his first primary election four years ago, Johnson barely edged out Barbara Capozzi by about 40 votes in a district of 150,000 residents.

This time around, primary challenger Ori Feibush, a real estate developer and businessman, is spending his own money to oust Johnson.

The bitter race is by far the highest profile and most hotly contested district Council contest. Mayor Nutter, a Johnson, backer, even called Feibush "a little jerk with a big checkbook."

 

Ori Feibush

 

Feibush, 31, built a park on city-owned property in Point Breeze. He paid to have hundreds of cameras mounted on city streets that have helped police catch criminals - including pest exterminator Jason Smith who was convicted this week for the first-degree murder of a young doctor in 2013.

He has opened coffee shops and built homes.

A native of the Philly 'burbs and graduate of Temple University, Feibush wants to make the district more business-friendly through rezoning and cutting bureaucratic red tape. "Poverty pimp" is how Feibush described Johnson, who differs on how to spur economic growth.

 

Maria Quinones-Sanchez

 

In her bid for a third term as councilwoman for the 7th District, Quinones-Sanchez, 46, has been rejected by her own party, exposed her Democratic opponent as a social media right winger and picked up the endorsements of four Philadelphia mayors: Nutter, Street, Rendell and Green.

It's hard to say if Sanchez is leading Manny Morales or trailing because no polls have been conducted.

The candidate, who lives in Norris Square, is married to attorney Tomas Sanchez, and has two sons and a grandchild.

Sanchez, who is of Puerto Rican decent, is the first Latina to serve in City Council. While in office, she has sponsored legislation for business tax reform and has taken a keen interest in housing development and vacant land.

She has been endorsed by mayoral hopeful state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, whom she has in turn endorsed.

 

Manny Morales

 

Morales, 45, is one of the best-known City Council hopefuls not because of what he's said or stands for, but for what's been said about him by his opponent, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez.

Shortly after the city's Democratic party endorsed Morales, Sanchez struck back by releasing what she alleged were Morales' tea party-like rants and posts on his Facebook page. It contained lots of anti-black, gay, immigrant and Obama ramblings along with pro-gun and Republican musings.

While the Democratic City Committee took back its endorsement of Morales after the revelation, most of the ward leaders in the heavily Latino 7th District are still standing behind Morales - who claimed his Facebook page was hacked.

State Rep. Angel Cruz is Morales' biggest backer among city politicians. Morales, who is married with children, is no stranger to city politics, despite only having moved here in 2006 from Puerto Rico. He is a block captain, committee person and is a former investigator for the state labor department.

Cruz and others have said they endorsed Morales because he brings people together, while they see Sanchez as a divider.

 


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