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Preview: District 7, Philly Council

By Tom Mulkeen, Contributing Writer

Who will turn out?

That is the question that Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Daniel Savage have to be asking themselves on the eve of the Democratic primary for the 7th district City Council seat in Philadelphia.  No Republican is running in the heavily gerrymandered district, so the winner on Tuesday can be penciled in as the winner in November and a member of the Council next year.

The matchup is arguably the most interesting in the city because it is a rematch of a 2007 Democratic primary that saw Savage, an incumbent of 13 months, lose to Sanchez.  Savage wants his seat back and he has several of the city’s most powerful unions behind him and a majority of the cities ward leaders according to the Daily News.  However, Sanchez has all the advantages of incumbency and is the only Hispanic currently on the Council in an increasingly Hispanic district.

According to the Daily News, one of the reasons the district was gerrymandered so much was in order to give the Hispanics in the city more of a political voice, but many Hispanic leaders have complained that their influence is not what it should be because of gerrymandering.  The district is almost 50% Hispanic now and contains four of the city’s fifteen poorest neighborhoods according to the same article.

Generally speaking in politics, low turnout races tend to favor the incumbent, but the reverse may be true in this election because Sanchez is depending on working class Hispanics to turn out, while Savage is hoping that those in the district active in politics and unions turn out to vote for him.

Sanchez co-sponsored a bill to end the DROP pension program for elected officials and emphasizes the recent development in Fairhill, the poorest neighborhood in the city.  However, Savage argues that Sanchez has not paid enough attention to the district.  His platform focuses on public safety issues, like adding parole officers and helping small businesses, along with term limits for elected officials according to WHYY Newsworks.

Sanchez raised about $235,000 as of last week and Savage’s total was around $124,000.  The race has turned nasty in recent weeks with both campaigns going negative and Election Day is expected to be hectic.

Savage may have a slight edge because of the backing of most of the local ward leaders, but the race is expected to be one of the closest in the city and could go either way.  Watch the turnout in Hispanic districts, like Fairhill, Hunting Park, and West Kensington to determine who has an edge.

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