9th Ward Democrats pick Anderson-Oberman for council, Rhynhart for mayor

by Tom Beck
Posted 4/4/23

The ward’s elected leader, Jeff Duncan, called Anderson-Oberman, who overwhelmingly won the vote among 9th ward committeepeople by a 20 to four margin, an “impressive candidate.”

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9th Ward Democrats pick Anderson-Oberman for council, Rhynhart for mayor


Chestnut Hill’s Democratic 9th political ward voted to endorse Seth Anderson-Oberman for 8th district councilmanic district’s May 16 primary election on Wednesday, throwing the weight of the city’s most active ward – and arguably the most progressive – behind the person seeking to unseat incumbent city councilmember Cindy Bass. The ward also endorsed Rebecca Rhynhart for mayor. 

The ward’s elected leader, Jeff Duncan, called Anderson-Oberman, who overwhelmingly won the vote among 9th ward committeepeople by a 20 to four margin, an “impressive candidate.”

“I think that folks appreciated his background as a labor organizer,” Duncan added, “and it seems like he had a very good work ethic and a very good passion for making the city a better place.”

Several of the 9th ward’s committeepeople told the Local that they chose Anderson-Oberman for his progressive stances on issues that cater to working class people.

“He has a demonstrated interest in the needs of working people, and the district is full of working people,” said committeeperson Stanley Shapiro. “His progressive platform deals with the mess in the rental market, where people are getting priced out of their homes.”

Housing Affordability and Development Concerns

In a previous interview with the Local, Anderson-Oberman said he supports rent stabilization that caps rent increases at the rate of inflation – something Shapiro said he wants. 

“Cindy Bass has just been ineffective at protecting the district from disinvestment in some regards and rampant development in others,” he said. “She takes a lot of money from developers. They are trying to throw up high income housing all over the district and poor renters are not getting any help.”

According to campaign finance records, some of Bass’ biggest donors are developers such as Richard Snowden, Glenn Falso, Keith B. Key and Swanson Street Associates, which is a consultancy firm run by the Goldenberg Group’s CEO, Ken Goldenberg. All have done business in the 8th councilmanic district.

Richard Weishaupt, another committeeperson who endorsed Anderson-Oberman, called the current state of development in the district “a mess.” Development projects are too dense, he said, and there isn’t enough affordable housing to go around.

“We just have really bad developments that don’t improve on housing issues like overdensity,” said Weishaupt, who listed housing, poverty and education as his top priorities.

Like Shapiro, Weishaupt said he thinks Bass is “too friendly with developers” and that she is bad at constituent services. He’s also unhappy with her performance as ward leader of the neighboring 22nd ward, where a rump group of committeepeople who are seeking to create an open ward attempted to unseat her. Bass prevailed and the ward is still closed – which means the ward leader makes political endorsement alone, without holding a vote. 

The ward also endorsed Chestnut Hill resident Eryn Santamoor and Mt. Airy resident Nina Ahmad for city council at-large along with newcomer Rue Landeau and incumbents Isaiah Thomas and Katherine Gilmore Richardson. 

The issues in numbers

Weishaupt said he chose Rhynhart for her knowledge of both the issues and the city’s finances.

“Philadelphia has for a long time has struggled with how to pay for all of the services that the city needs,” he said. “I think that she has a good understanding of those things and that she could do a good job.”

Shapiro, however, bucked the trend of his ward and voted in favor of endorsing mayoral candidate Helen Gym.

“She’s got a tremendous record of achievement,” he said, citing legislation introduced by Gym and passed by council that provides council to tenants in eviction court, staves off evictions and encourages fair workweeks.

“That sort of legislation is very impressive,” said Shapiro. “She got it passed despite opposition from powerful interests in the city.”

Margaret Lenzi, another committeeperson, also bucked the trend of her ward and voted to endorse Gym.

“I think Helen is the one person who is able to get things done,” she said. “She has an incredible record of achievement in City Council.”

Rhynhart, Lenzi said, doesn’t possess the skills necessary to be a mayor.

“I think she had a very specific job as a controller, which are not the same skills we need as a mayor,” said Lenzi. “I think Helen outshines her in that area.”

Shapiro called Rhynhart “too conservative” for his tastes, particularly when it comes to fiscal policy.

“I don’t think she’s got a record that comes close to matching Helen’s,” he said. “In particular I’m concerned with her positions on tax cuts, which I think is very aggressive and not called for given all the needs of the city that require beefed up services. The notion that tax cuts are going to pay for themselves and produce more revenue for the city is from a republican playbook, frankly.”

Lydia Allen-Berry, another committeeperson in the 9th ward, said her vote was essentially a decision between Gym and Rhynhart. In the end, she chose Rhynhart.

“I’ve been impressed with Rebecca,” Allen-Berry told the Local. “We need someone who will take a hard look at issues, knows where the money is, knows how programs can be funded, and isn’t beholden to anybody or stuck in old patterns of operating.”

Duncan told the Local that his ward’s endorsement vote for mayor was done in rounds, with the lowest vote getter being eliminated from the vote in each round. The final round came down to Rhynhart and Cherelle Parker. Rynhart won the vote 18-8. 

“There were many good candidates and people had preferences as to who they liked best, but in the end there was a strong majority in favor of Rebecca,” said Duncan. “We’re pretty excited to have her as a nominee. She’s someone 9th ward voters can really get behind.”