Saturday, September 7, I attended a citywide meeting and electoral forum of Reclaim Philadelphia, the grassroots progressive activist group which has mobilized its members to canvass for several progressive candidates during the Primary election in May. (https://www.reclaimphiladelphia.org/) The meeting took place in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, 2125 Chestnut Street. (https://www.philauu.org/)
The forum was for candidates for the two minority At-Large seats in Philadelphia City-Council, traditionally held by Republicans. (Full disclosure, I’m a Democratic Committee-person in the 48th Ward.) At the forum were Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke, running with the Working Families Party; Sherrie Cohen, running although she was taken off the ballot (her case is going through the courts); and independent Joe Cox. Reclaim activists Aileen Callaghan, Ken Begley, Natasha Cahill, and Sarah Kloss asked the candidates questions about such issues as ending the ten-year tax abatement for real estate developers (which takes money away from housing and other needed services); juvenile justice and reentry programs for people coming out of the penal system; climate change and the environment; and funding for quality schools, ending support for private charter schools (which takes funding from public schools), and community control of local schools.
City Council-person-At-large Helen Gym spoke, discussing the successful electoral work of Reclaim in electing progressive candidates such as herself; in the May primary, Gym, with the support of Reclaim, raked in over 100,000 votes, more than the next-highest candidate. ( https://whyy.org/articles/2019-pennsylvania-primary-election-results/)
On Sunday, September 8, I joined other Democratic committee-people at a cookout put on by Congress-member Dwight Evans. Amid the fun, we were reminded of the importance of getting the vote out for this election, and especially next year, the presidential election. Committee-people are the arms, legs, eyes, and ears of the party system, going out to urge people to vote and take part in their political process, and to listen to the concerns of the people in the neighborhoods.