T HE P UB L I C R E CO R D
Voting for Those Who Count the Votes
POLS on the STREET BY JOE SHAHEELI NE OF THE MORE important offices at stake in the May primary is that of city commissioner. Come November, three will be elected to run the machinery of elections throughout Philadelphia. All odds are that two will be Democrats, since that party enjoys a huge registration advantage. The third is reserved for a minority party, in practice a Republican, to ensure bipartisan administration of elections. It is an elected office unique to Philadelphia. In Pennsylvania’s 66 other
F E B RUA RY 7, 2019
counties, county commissioners run the entire county administration. Since Philadelphia is both a city and a county, that role has been taken over by the mayor. But City Commission remains tasked with managing elections. It is a daunting mission for an odd workforce. “Half the time we don’t have much to do; the other half the time we have too much to do,” Commissioner Al Schmidt has remarked wryly. There were 1,035,420 registered voters as of the 2018 primary. All their records must be kept secure and up to date. There are 1,686 election divisions in the city. Each must be equipped, twice a year, with well-maintained voting machines and records trundled out of storage and delivered to them in time for Election Day, with no exception. Polling places must be lined up from a host of volunteer institutions, all of which must offer handicapped access. When the big day comes,
Always Hard At Work for You! P H IL LY R E CO R D.C O M - 215 -755 -20 0 0
Anthony Hardy Williams 8th Senatorial District
2901 ISLAND AVE. STE 100 PHILADELPHIA, PA 19153 (215) 492-2980 FAX: (215) 492-2990 ---419 CHURCH LANE YEADON, PA 19050 (610) 284-7335 FAX: (610) 284-5955 6630 LINDBERGH BLVD.
2103 SNYDER AVENUE PHILADELPHIA, PA 19145 (215) 755-9185 FAX: (215) 952-3375 ---SENATE BOX 203008 HARRISBURG, PA 17120 ROOM: 11 EAST WING (717) 787-5970 FAX: (717) 772-0574
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each division must be staffed with, ideally, three election-board officials, ideally elected by the voters of their division, along with, ideally, two other assistants who are appointed. We say “ideally,” because in practice it can be hard to find enough individuals to run a division. It is a grueling 11-hour day for, at most, $120, under intense legal and public scrutiny. Most of these one-day workers do it out of love of their democracy, their city and their neighbors. Therefore, much City Commission work involves a continuous scramble to fill vacant positions by hook or by crook working in close cooperation with two sets of party ward leaders. Of the two incumbent Democrats, Commissioner Anthony Clark will not run for re-election. Lisa Deeley has not formally announced her candidacy. Should she do so, she will recuse herself from any role in the election. Common Pleas Court President Judge Idee Fox will appoint a panel of
three judges to oversee City Commission until the general election is wrapped up. Four years ago, six Democrats competed in the primary for two slots on the November ballot. At least eight Democrats have announced their candidacy this year, with likely a couple more to come. This week, we profile three challengers, with more in weeks to come.
Jen Devor is a progressive 26th Ward committeewoman, block captain – and machine inspector – with a background in marketing. The central mission of City Commission is to pump voter turnout, she says, and she sees it as a marketing challenge first. America’s low voter-participation rate calls for a concerted effort to sell voting to the public, she holds. “I’m a voting enthusiast,” Devor said recently. “I love Election Day, meeting neighbors.” A poor student in high school, she was transformed by a civics class that gave her a new sense of purpose. She wants to State Rep.
Jannie L. Blackwell
District 3 City Hall, Room 408 Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 686-3418, (215) 686-3419 FAX: (215) 686-1933
172nd Dist. 7420 Frankford Ave. Phila., PA 19136
State Rep. Jason
Dawkins District Office:
4667 Paul St. Philadelphia, PA 19124 (215) 744-7901 M.–Th.:8:30a.m.–5:00p.m. F.: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
1621 W. Jefferson Street Philadelphia, PA 19121
215-227-6161 Paid for with PA Tax Dollars
Phila PA 19148
Donatucci D-185th District 2901 S. 19th St. Phila PA 19145 P: 215-468-1515 F: 215-952-1164
STATE REP MARY ISAACSON 175TH LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT 610 N. SECOND STREET 215.503.3245
District Office 3503 ‘B’ St. 215-291-5643 Ready to Serve you
1st District City Hall Room 332
T: (215) 748-6712 F: (215) 748-1687
310 W. Chelten Ave.
Room 506 City Hall P. 215-686-3446/7 F. 215-686-1927
191st Leg. Dist. 6027 Ludlow St. Unit A Phila., PA 19139
AT YOUR SERVICE
State Rep. Elizabeth Fields. She helped train hundreds of people to run for committeeperson. She published op-eds on voter engagement in the Inquirer, and for Generocity, Philly 3.0, Moving Philly Forward and Young Involved Philadelphia. Devor would promote voting by designing “high-quality, easy-to-understand materials.” She wants to explore outreach to challenging constituents: homeless people, those in the criminal-justice system and Asian immigrants. (Cont. Next Page)
bring civics back into the classroom as part of many curricula: history, English, even mathematics. Born in North Jersey, she moved to Philadelphia 17 years ago to attend University of the Arts. Now 34 years old, she and her husband have a 5-year-old daughter. Devor is an incorrigible volunteer with an extensive record of activism. She is a public-school advocate with Childs Elementary School and with Friends of Neighborhood Education. She worked on the campaign of Hillary Clinton and
215-686-3458/59 State Rep.
Bullock 195th Leg. Dist. 2835 W. Girard Ave Phila, PA 19130
T: (215) 684-3738 F: (215) 235-4629
DEREK 5. GREEN City Hall, Room 594 Philadelphia, PA 19107
City Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker 9th District
District Office 1538 E. Wadsworth Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19150 Phone: 215-686-3454 Fax: 215-685-9271. www.phlcouncil.com/CherelleParker
Facebook: CouncilwomanCherelleLParker Twitter: @CherelleParker9
South Philadelphia Public Record