Election Day 2022 in Philadelphia: New City Councilmembers, Ballot Question Responses
On Tuesday, Philadelphians turned out in droves to participate in the highly anticipated midterm election. The state’s highly competitive U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races drew much national attention, and while ballots are still being counted — due in large part to the last-minute reinstatement of a policy that requires counters to institute a time-consuming process that is intended to identify double votes — Philadelphia voters also made several important decisions at the city level.
City Council now has four new councilmembers — two at-large and two district councilmembers — all of whom were chosen as part of a special election called by Council President Darrell Clarke in September after several councilmembers resigned in order to run or explore a run for mayor in 2023. Former aide to Senator Sharif Street Jimmy Harrity and longtime City Hall employee Sharon Vaughn won their at-large positions handily. Meanwhile, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez’s political protégée Quetcy Lozada will succeed her in representing District 7 and Youth Action co-founder and Ph.D. candidate Anthony Phillips will be taking over former Councilmember Cherelle Parker’s seat in District 9.
Voters also approved both ballot questions, bringing changes to the Home Rule Charter. The first will allow for the creation of the Department of Aviation, a new cabinet-level department that will allow the city’s airport officials’ input on budget discussions. The second will allow the city to give preference to the city’s Career Technical Education (CTE) graduates on their civil service entrance exams.
PPA Appoints New Executive Director
On Monday, Deputy Mayor of Labor under Mayor Jim Kenney Richard Lazer was appointed the new executive director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) following a unanimous vote by the organization’s board. The position had been vacant since the sudden ouster of former executive director Scott Petri in March, who had received widespread criticism for poor financial and operational decisions — such as the lodging of a $10.8 million debt request against the Philadelphia School District and a failed development plan for a new impound and towing headquarters called Lot 9 in Port Richmond. Lazer will be the first Democratic PPA executive director in years, as the organization has been helmed by Republican leaders for nearly two decades.
Home Depot Workers at Roosevelt Boulevard Store Vote Against Unionizing
Last weekend, workers at the Northeast Philadelphia Home Depot voted 165 to 51 against unionizing, dashing the hopes of local labor organizers that the store would become the first in the nation to do so. While similar efforts throughout the city have proven successful in recent months — including local coffee shops and several Starbucks locations — unionizing a Home Depot store would have been a “tall order,” according to lead organizer Vince Quiles.
School District of Philadelphia to Receive $5 Million From EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a nearly $5 million grant to the School District of Philadelphia in order to help accelerate efforts to provide abundant and equitable access to filtered drinking water in schools and buildings. The funds will go toward the installation of 755 filtered hydration stations, as well as kitchen sink filters, water sampling, and training and education related to drinking water safety.
Plan for New Southwest Philadelphia Warehouse Complex Draws Criticism From Environmental Group
Currently home to a petrochemical tank farm, an industrialized section of West Passyunk Avenue is the proposed site for a large warehouse operation that New Jersey-based BP Point Breeze LLC intends to develop. However, the plan is not without its opponents, namely the Clean Air Council, a local environmental nonprofit that has highlighted the project’s potential to pollute wetlands along the Schuylkill River — threatening the existence of an “imperiled” species of turtle — and continue to block river access for Philadelphia residents. Bridge Industrial, the company that formed BP Point Breeze LLC, maintains that it intends to address environmental concerns during the planning and development process.
City of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Sued by Brother of MOVE Victims
Last year, WHYY revealed that the bones of two MOVE bombing victims had been housed at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for decades, unbeknownst to their families. Now, Lionell Dotson, the brother of Katricia and Zanetta Dotson, the two victims in question, is suing the City of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania for their respective roles in mishandling the victims’ bodies.