Keystone Crossroads previously highlighted some mayoral races in key municipalities. Now that primary results are in, voters have a clearer picture of what the general election will look like. In some cities, where elections can pretty much be called along party lines — ahem, Philadelphia — voters can start getting to know their future mayor.      

Reading and Chester, two of the distressed communities– those under Act 47 – that we covered rejected their incumbents. Altoona’s current mayor won his primary, but the ultimate winner in the general election will take on not just a new job, but an entirely new position in the city’s government. 


Jim Kenney won the Democratic nomination for mayor, far outrunning the other five candidates, with 56 percent of the votes.

There are many reasons for Kenney’s win, and not all of them have to do with Kenney. He’s likely to be the mayor, so you can start reading up on him. WHYY's NewsWorks also has more on Philadelphia’s primary election results, and to stay up to date with all things mayoral in the city, go to NinetyNine blog.    


Current Altoona Mayor Matt Pacifico has won the Republican mayoral primary, and will face Democrat Jason Imler, who ran unopposed, in the general election. Pacifico received 39 percent of the votes, beating out two other candidates.

The ultimate winner of the mayoral seat in Altoona will have a different job than the one about to expire. Altoona has a new home rule charter, which has changed the mayor’s seat into a full-time position for the first time since the 1980s. The mayor will still lack executive powers – the position gets one vote on council – but, according to the Altoona Mirror, expanded responsibilities will include lobbying on behalf of the city and being a chief economic development promoter. The salary is also more generous, at $75,000 per year.

Altoona has been in Act 47 since 2012. The new home rule charter is meant to help with the city’s efforts to attain solvency.  


Wally Scott, a retired district judge, defeated five other candidates, including current Mayor Vaughn Spencer, in the Democratic primary. He received 52 percent of the votes. In the November election, Scott will be up against Republican Jim McHale, who ran unopposed, and Independent Frankie Graham Jr. According to the Reading Eagle, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans five-to-one in the city, though McHale (R) received 41 percent of the vote in the previous general election.      

Reading has been in Act 47 since 2009. Scott has said he wants to do forensic audits of all city departments to maximize revenues. 


Tony George edged out three other candidates to win the Democratic primary for the mayoral bid. He took 47 percent of the votes. Republic Frank Sorick and Independent Brian McHale will also be on the ballot in the general election. 

George is a former city police chief who touted “law and order” in his campaign, and said he’ll prioritize lowering the city’s debt.    


State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland beat out incumbent John Linder for the Democratic nomination in the Chester mayoral race. He received 71 percent of the votes. Kirkland will face Republican Wendell Butler, who ran unopposed and previously served as Chester mayor, in the general election. Kirkland has been a state rep since 1993 and would take a significant pay cut as mayor.

According to, contested democratic primaries like the one Chester saw are rare, and it’s even rarer for an incumbent to lose.

But Chester has been struggling: one-third of residents live below the poverty line and last year the city saw 30 murders, the highest rate on a per capita basis among the state’s most populous cities.  The city has been under Act 47 since 1995.

Kirkland has said he wants to replace the city’s police Commissioner, eliminate gangs, and work to market the city in “a better light.”