Larry Miller: A Post Pennsylvania Primary Perspective
I never stay up waiting for election results. The reason is simple: If I’m going to be disappointed, I don’t want to sleep on it and have bad dreams. I’d rather face it after breakfast and a strong cup of tea.
Anyway, after Tuesday’s Philadelphia primaries, it’s time for another very strong cup of tea with cream. But I think I’ll put some sugar in it too.
I’ll start with my small shred of optimism, and say that I hope our elected representatives will press for programs and initiatives to move our poorest voters off government subsistence handouts and into family-sustaining jobs. This is a city where 400,000 people live at or below the poverty line - numbers that haven’t significantly improved over the years.
My shred of optimism also hopes for out-of-the-box thinking instead of raising taxes. And I hope for equitable funding for the city’s public schools – charter and traditional. My congratulations to City Council at Large candidate Isaiah Thomas and former police officer Rochelle Bilal in her run for sheriff. Congratulations to City Council incumbents Helen Gym, Derek Green, Alan Domb, Curtis Jones, Cindy Bass, Bobby Henon, Mark Squilla, David Oh, Kenyatta Johnson, Cherelle Parker and Maria Quinones-Sanchez. In West Philadelphia’s Third District, Jamie Gauthier won over Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who has served on Council since 1992.
I do wish that more people participated on Election Day. According to published reports, about 237,000 people voted in the primaries, with absentee ballots still being counted. Yet the population of the city – America’s sixth-largest – is 1.584 million. That means roughly two thirds of Philadelphians did not vote.
Voting is a right and a privilege that our forebears shed blood for. It’s not to be taken lightly. I vote in every election, but many people in our city don’t. Is it because they’ve given up? Is it a lack of trust in elected officials? Is it because they have no faith in our government to address their serious needs? Maybe it’s a combination of the three.
Not surprisingly, Mayor Jim Kenney easily won renomination, ensuring a second term. I was hoping either State Sen. Anthony Williams or former city controller Alan Butkovitz might pull off an upset.
It’s worth noting that the incumbent declined to debate with his opponents until election-day was on the door step. Williams accused Kenney of running an undercover campaign.
“We concentrated on social media,” Mayor Kenney said in a published report. “More and more people get their news on social media, especially younger people.”
Here’s hoping that Kenney puts more emphasis on diversity in his second term. Before the primary, he made some questionable remarks regarding over-qualified Blacks and city employee diversity numbers before the African American Chamber of Commerce. There are only four Blacks in his cabinet. It’s past time for more.
So hand me that very strong cup of tea. I may not be happy with all the results, but I’ll keep working for the best in my city.
Larry Miller is a Special Projects Manager is Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.