Steering Committee recommends endorsing Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O'Rourke

Philadelphia has a unique opportunity to elect two independent progressive candidates to City Council at Large. Reclaim Philadelphia’s Steering Committee recommends our membership vote to endorse Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke.

There are 7 City Council-At-Large seats up for election on November 5th. Each major party (Democrats and Republicans) is allowed to nominate only 5 candidates. Reclaim Philadelphia-endorsed candidates Helen Gym and Isaiah Thomas join three other Democrats on the ballot. With the 5 seats locked down by the Democrats, the remaining two seats have historically gone to the Republican party. But these seats have gone to Republicans only because there was no large grassroots effort to support an independent candidate. 

Each voter is allowed 5 votes for the 7 City Council At Large seats and can vote for candidates from any combination of parties. The top 7 vote-getters overall win, under the constraint that no party can win more than 5 of the 7 At-Large seats.

Democrats have an 8-to-1 voter registration advantage over Republicans, there is no reason why the party of Trump should hold any seats on Philadelphia City Council! If Democrats cast their 5 votes by voting for 2 Independents and 3 Democrats, we can kick the GOP out of city hall!

Steering Committee recommends Reclaim Philadelphia’s membership vote to endorse Kendra Brooks and Pastor Nicolas O’Rourke for these two minority party seats. 

Kendra Brooks is a passionate advocate for public education. In 2014, her neighborhood school, Edward T Steel Elementary School in Nicetown, was slated for a takeover by a charter corporation. As a single mother, and president of her local School Advisory Council, she fought for Edward T Steel to stay public, and won. She then worked in coalition with parents at other schools to fight charterization, and again achieved victories. Brooks was a key organizer for the struggle to abolish the School Reform Commision, and was an appointed member of the Nominating Committee that chose the current Board of Education. She is dedicated to allocating resources towards community investment and healing instead of policing and incarceration. Her record of political courage gives us the confidence that she would be a champion for our values in City Hall.

Pastor Nicolas O’Rourke has established himself in a few short years as one of the most dynamic organizers around furthering economic justice, ending mass incarceration, and halting police brutality. The child of a working-class, union household, O’Rourke grew up with an intimate awareness of hardship and the intense racial antagonism facing Black and brown people in this country. In his work as a Pastor, he draws on theologies of liberation and social justice, and has helped to combat Islamophobia. As an organizer with POWER, the interfaith organization based in North Philadelphia, he has united diverse communities in the struggle against predatory developers and unscrupulous employers. In addition, he expresses a clear sense of how a system of racial capitalism underpins the climate and housing crises that face our city and the world. His understanding of how social movements can co-govern with candidates would make him a superb advocate for our cause in City Hall. 

Philadelphia’s City Council is the most powerful governing body of this municipality. Its members have the ability to further the goals of our movement. But more often than not, they have catered to corporate interests that hold us back. This year, we have the opportunity to change that. 

To advance the people’s agenda on mass liberation, workers’ rights, gender justice, and community control over development, Reclaim Philadelphia’s Steering Committee believes we must elect candidates with a history of political integrity, who will seek the backing of social movements and who will be fearless in fighting for their values. We believe Kendra Brooks and Pastor Nicolas O’Rourke have shown, through their questionnaire responses and their work that they deserve the support of Reclaim Philadelphia’s membership. 

Members of Reclaim Philadelphia are able to cast their votes in person at our citywide meeting on September 7, 2019 or following the meeting online. We will send out an online ballot via email. Voting will end on September 14, 2019. The results of the endorsement vote will be announced shortly after that. If you would like to cast your vote but are not currently a dues-paying member of Reclaim Philadelphia you can become a member by contributing monthly dues here.

Steering Committee