Working Families Party wins two Philly City Council seats

Councilmember Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O'Rourke celebrate their Election Day victories as members of the Working Families Party in Philadelphia on Nov. 7, 2023. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

November 8, 2023

The Working Families Party ousted Republicans from Philadelphia City Council for the first time since the city adopted its charter in 1952. Republicans used to control at-large seats awarded to minority parties, but not anymore. 

Supporters and organizers with the Working Families Party, a progressive third party, celebrated into the early morning hours in Philadelphia on Wednesday after two of their members, Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke, won their at-large campaigns for city council. 

The mood was cautiously optimistic for most of the evening, even as O’Rourke trailed the two Republican candidates late into the evening. That changed when Brooks and O’Rourke walked on stage in front of hundreds of supporters at the Roar Nightclub and declared victory. 

“We rejected the status quo that limited our vision and tried to paint our humane desire for communities that thrive as somehow too radical,” O’Rourke told the room full of supporters. 

Tuesday’s victory is historic for the Working Families Party because this upcoming year will be the first time since the 1950s that a Republican hasn’t served on Philadelphia City Council.

Philadelphia adopted its city charter in 1952 and it allowed minority parties to hold two at-large seats on city council. Those two seats have traditionally gone to Republicans over the decades, but that changed on Tuesday. 

The Working Families Party began their quest to remove Republicans from Philadelphia City Council in 2019, when Brooks and O’Rourke ran as third party candidates. Brooks won a spot on the council, but O’Rourke finished behind former Councilmember David Oh for the final spot.

“We took a bet on ourselves and we changed the game,” Brooks said in her victory speech. “I will never back down from a fight and I took on some of the biggest ones during my first term, but you know what? I’m just getting started.” 

“With Nicholas O’Rourke alongside me in city hall, I can promise the best is yet to come,” she added. 

 

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