Jabari Jones drops his challenge of Councilmember Jamie Gauthier in Philly’s District 3
Jones faced a petition challenge from three Democratic committeepeople and appeared in court on Monday, March 20.
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Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information regarding Gauthier's unreported company. A previous version of this article lacked details of the actual business arrangement.
It looks like the City Council in West Philly’s District 3 won’t be as competitive as once thought.
After announcing his moderate, hard-on-crime campaign to much fanfare in late January 2023, Jabari Jones is reportedly dropping out after facing a petition challenge filed by three Democratic committeepeople on behalf of incumbent Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. The three committeepeople have also filed a challenge against Gauthier’s other Democratic challenger, Raymond Grant — who wants to appear on the ballot using his religious name, Mustafa Majeed.
Upon news of Jones’ withdrawal, Gauthier released a statement earlier on Monday, March 20 that commented on his dropping out.
“I am thrilled today to be one step closer to a second term, and am proud to have the support of the Democrats in the 3rd District. Thank you to all of the volunteers and neighbors who helped us secure our place on the ballot. I look forward to May 16, and to continuing the fight to lift up every community,” Gauthier said.
Sergio Cea, a West Philly political organizer and committeeperson also announced on Twitter that Jones had dropped out.
“Must not have wanted to go through court just to end up getting kicked off anyway,” read part of Cea’s tweet.
Previous Philadelphia Inquirer reporting from a week ago, said Jones had garnered around 940 signatures, 190 more than the 750 required for district council candidates to appear on the primary ballot. The petition challenge targeted more than 470 of those 940 signatures.
At the ceremonial ballot held placing last week, Gauthier pulled the first spot, Majeed pulled second, and Jones got third.
Before dropping out, Jones represented a potentially serious moderate challenge to Gauthier in her first re-election bid in District 3.
He is the former president of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, a coalition of businesses and entrepreneurs in West Philly that support one another to get city and other outside resources and lobby for more small business support from City Hall. One of Jones’ initiatives as president was to get small businesses in West Philly security cameras to deter crime.
As gun violence raged in West Philly and elsewhere throughout 2021 and 2022, Jones became a major critic of Gauthier and her progressive policies. He featured on episode four of AL DÍA's four-part series on Philly gun violence, What Our City Needs, where he spoke about how the city's lack of small business support contributed to the crisis.
Beyond gun violence, Jones was a major critic of Gauthier’s housing policies, especially the recent housing overlay bill.
Speaking to the Inquirer on Monday, Jones called the more than 200 invalid ballots his campaign found among the 940 submissions “technicalities” — many of which he would later say were due to address reporting issues
In a released statement, Jones also pointed the finger at Gauthier, who he alleged failed to report a company she and three other urban planning classmates founded in 2004. She testified in court that the company was never used, never received any income and was founded in case her and her three classmates at the time never got jobs in urban planning. All three did get jobs in the industry, and the company was never utilized. Jones' initial challenge of Gauthier was based on the unreported company, but that challenge was thrown out. He has said he might appeal that ruling, but did drop off the ballot in the face of his own challenge.
"I want to thank everyone who has supported our campaign and believed in a vision of a greater Philadelphia," Jones wrote.
On or off the ballot, Jones also said he would continue to advocate for public safety and businesses in West Philly.
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