In Center City Philly, voters focus on electability and issues

By: - May 16, 2023 2:40 pm

PHILADELPHIA — In Center City early Tuesday afternoon, the polling station at the  Kimmel Center had a light – but steady – pace of voters, according to Elaine Petrossian, the 8th Ward Democratic Executive Committee leader. 

Petrossian said the lack of turnout was due to the fact that most people in the 8th Ward were mailing in their ballots. She said it was positive to see so many voters take part in this primary and “meet the moment” – whether that be a mail-in ballot or in-person voting.

But mail-in ballot voters will be missing out on something new during this year’s primary race. 

As of this election, Philadelphia is implementing new electronic poll books to help polling workers check people in more efficiently and quickly. Petrossian said it had been going well so far. 

“Change is always a challenge, but [the electronic poll books] have been received positively,” Petrossian told the Capital-Star.

Poll workers, candidates, and voters gather outside the Kimmel Center in Center City, Philadelphia on Tuesday May 16, 2023 (Capital-Star photo by Ella Lathan).

Irene Colbert, a volunteer with a political action committee, got to the polls at 7 a.m. and she says that it has slowed down since they originally opened. 

“When we first came out there was a pretty big turnout and steady flow of people, but around nine or ten o’clock it kind of teetered off,” Colbert said. 

Polling volunteer Aaron Schwartzbaum said the voters he’d seen so far on Tuesday had been in “pretty good spirits.”

“Some people are very prepared. They have their whole list in their pocket, some have a sense of mayor and no idea about anything else because there are so many candidates,” he said. 

8th Ward voters Robert Taglieri and Timothy Moir were both sporting their “I Voted” stickers after voting together today.

“I think [former City Controller] Rebecca Ryhnhart is the best choice out of all those candidates as far as what Philadelphia needs for the future,” Taglieri told the Capital Star. 

“We watched some of the debates and she seemed like the smartest person on the stage. We saw her in person once and she talked a lot about how the money was allocated, where it was spent well, and where it wasn’t. And it looks like she would be a good guiding force,” Moir said.

Taglieri and Moir told the Capital-Star they were less concerned about the next mayor’s gender – but rather with who had the best chance of winning. That candidate was Rhynhart, Moir said.

“Our question came not to gender, it came to – I thought she has the best chance of winning,” Moir told the Capital Star. 

Two young women who asked not to be identified voted for former City Councilmember Helen Gym because of her involvement and support in the recent Temple University graduate student strike – they underscored her support for education as a top reason for voting for her. 

Schwartzbaum said he’s also voting for Gym because of her involvement and expressed concern surrounding housing issues and their link to crime. 

“Housing issues are really important to me, everyone talks about crime and housing and homelessness separately. I think they are one big issue, [and] the holistic way that she talks about [those issues] – that is why I like her,”  Schwartzbaum told the Capital- Star.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.