Primary day in Philadelphia has few issues, but low turnout so far

By: - May 16, 2023 4:35 pm

By Stephen Williams and Sharyn Flanagan

Six-year-old Daquan Anderson didn’t want to let go of his grandmother’s hand as she approached the table to sign in to vote Tuesday morning at one West Philadelphia polling place.

A poll worker asked the puzzled boy, “Do you know what your grandmother is doing here today?” After he nodded, she pointed at him and said, “Your forefathers fought and died for this right.” Daquan then smiled and happily went into the booth with his grandmother.

There were plenty of these stories around Philadelphia as voters were set to choose between front-runner candidates including former City Council members Allan Domb, Helen Gym and Cherelle Parker; former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart; and political outsider and grocer Jeff Brown. They are vying to replace Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney, who is term-limited. The Democratic winner will face Republican former City Councilmember David Oh on Nov. 7 in the general election.

(Capital-Star photo by Ella Lathan)

Also at play today are candidates for all of City Council, City Commissioners, City Controller, Register of Wills, Sheriff, Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court, Court of Common Pleas and Municipal Court.

There are also four questions to round out Tuesday’s ballot.

Some Philadelphia polling places had a steady stream of voters such as the one at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia on Tuesday morning, while others like the one at the Salvation Army at 55th and Arch streets had a trickle.

“I was expecting more people this morning. I thought that I would see some of the stalwarts,” Henry Madigan, 47, said at the 52nd Street Market-Frankford Line station. “When I was out last night, a lot of the ladies sounded like they couldn’t wait to go out and vote. They think a woman is going to be mayor.”

There were a variety of people early on at the polls, some seniors using wheelchairs were helped by younger family members and neighbors; a small crew of young first-time voters walked behind their parents to go vote in North Philadelphia.

Marlene Stone, 26, an accountant who voted at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, said like many others that her vote is about the issues.

“I’m concerned about the violence. It used to be safer. I wanted to vote to help out the community,” she said.

Eric Johnson, 58, works for Amtrak, said he votes in every election and is also concerned about crime, safety, young people and education.

“The schools are struggling with the state of the physical buildings,” he said. Johnson was referencing the string of closures due to asbestos exposure in aging school buildings.

Kevin Russell, 58, who is disabled and retired, voted at 19th Street and Erie Avenue.

“My issues are gun violence and the schools. The schools are designed to create minimum wage workers,” he said. “I vote because it is family tradition.”

The tradition changed at all of Philadelphia’s voting sites though this year. Electronic poll books were put into place  for everybody this year. With this new equipment, poll workers will be able to easily and quickly find voters by first name, last name, or date of birth.

LaVerne Hunter, who was staying very busy helping check-in and direct voters at a West Philadelphia polling place said, “It makes things a lot easier.”

Stephen Williams and Sharyn Flanagan wrote this story for the Philadelphia Tribune, where it first appeared

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