OUR OPINION: Spilling Tea, Reading Leaves

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ROCHELLE BILAL was applauded by her fans in her upset victory of incumbent Sheriff Jewell Williams.

There was so much to unpack in last Tuesday’s primary results that vats of ink and billions of pixels could continue to be spilled for weeks to come – and indeed, some of the finest analysis anywhere can be found in these pages.

But as America’s least favorite coach, Bill Belichick would say, “On to Cincinnati.” Or, in this case, on to 2020 and the next four years of political life in Philadelphia. We’re not the Oracle at Delhi Street or anything like that, but we do have an idea of what you should watch for – and what you should watch out for – when the winners take office next January.

• Education and the tax abatement: The stunning vote tally of Councilmember Helen Gym represents a clear mandate for her legislative priorities, chief among them improving the city’s schools. To do that will, of course, require funding – and lots of it. A constant drumbeat calling for monies to be collected for this purpose by rejiggering the property tax abatement has only been getting louder and more percussive. That action would be squarely at loggerheads with the priorities of Gym’s fellow at-large juggernaut, Councilmember Allan Domb. Stay tuned.

• The Years of the Woman: Female candidates have continued to make inroads into all political fiefs, and nowhere was that more apparent than in the shocking upsets in the races for Sheriff and Register of Wills. With Rochelle Bilal unseating incumbent Sheriff Jewell Williams and Tracey Gordon doing the same to incumbent Ronald Donatucci, the wave carrying women to power and, by association, the issues important to women, will continue to gain in precedence and prominence.

• Redefining councilmanic privilege: This will no doubt play out in slow motion if it is able to sustain any traction from its pre-primary buzz. Any impetus to make it a central issue in the near future may have been dampened by the overwhelming victory of incumbent Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson over challenger Lauren Vidas in the 2nd District. As the councilmember drawing the most flak over the practice – followed closely by Councilmember Jannie Blackwell and Council President Darrell Clarke – Johnson’s race was closely watched to see if his use of councilmanic privilege would become a stumbling block to reelection. It didn’t. But that doesn’t mean that a tipping point hasn’t been reached in reexamining this now-controversial practice.

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