For the first time since 1996 there will be a new 8th District City Councilperson, which has given prospective candidates more motivation to win Philadelphia’s May 17 primary election.
After a losing effort in the 2007 8th District City Council election, Democrat Cindy Bass has continued to build on her campaign and is back for this year’s election.
“In 2007, my campaign got off to a slow start,” Bass said, “But since then, I have continued to build relationships within the community and, frankly, I never stopped running.”
Bass, a senior policy advisor on urban and domestic policy to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, began her long career in politics volunteering in her local community in North Philadelphia, where she acquired a passion for helping the community. Through her hard work and dedication she has founded such organizations as the Turnout Tuesday Coalition, which has earned her the backing of many throughout the Eighth District.
“The people who have gathered behind me on my campaign are energized and enthusiastic,” Bass said, “Their numbers are growing by the day and my campaign will have more people talking to people than any other in the 8th District.”
Among those who are endorsing Bass are Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, State Sen. Vincent Hughes and State Rep. Dwight Evans. Through high profile endorsements Bass has separated herself as the presumptive front-runner in this year’s election.
Bass uses many tactics to attract her potentials voters, but she said she feels her emphasis on old-fashioned door-to-door campaigning has been a major contributor to her early success leading up to the primary election.
“You need to have voter contact so many times for it to resonate,” Bass said, “particularly with new names that people may not be familiar with.”
In order to attract voters for primary elections, candidates need to establish what their campaign represents and what issues they are willing to take on. Among the issues Bass is spearheading this election is creating economic opportunities for the residents of the 8th District.
Currently, Philadelphia has a 24 percent poverty rate, which is the highest among the major cities of the United States, according to the U.S. Census. Bass said she plans to attack this problem by strengthening the middle class through education and by offering affordable housing to those in need while also leveraging local incentives for economic development throughout the 8th District.
While focusing on those key areas, Bass said she thinks the issues can be taken on with the same solution.
“The issues are all interrelated and need to be tackled using a multifaceted approach,” Bass explained.
When it comes to local elections in Philadelphia, voter turnout tends to fall well below the turnout for national elections. This has created a challenge for all candidates, including Bass.
“I think the biggest challenge for any candidate in an off-year election is voter apathy,” Bass said, “People need to realize that while it is easy to bash City Council, it provides vital services to the citizens of Philadelphia and council elections shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
Youth voter turnout has also been an area of concern throughout campaigns on both the local and the national level. As the youngest candidate on the ticket Bass, 43, could have an advantage in reaching the young voters throughout the 8th District.
“I think by virtue of being younger, I attract more youth voters to exercise their civic duty,” Bass said, “I also have a young campaign; my staff are under 30 and many of my campaign’s volunteers are high school and college-aged.”
Bass said she is confident that having young people working on her campaign will help build a better future for the city.
“We think that having young people involved with the campaign speaks volume about our commitment to them and the future of our city,” Bass said.
Another area that has been heavily relied upon in recent campaigns has been social media. Through social media citizens can create networks to help promote campaigns through outlets including Facebook and Twitter.
In 2008, the Barack Obama campaign proved candidates can win voters by reaching them through social media outlets. Now in 2011 Bass considers social media critical to her success.
“Social media gives people an option to get engaged and find ways to integrate themselves into the campaign at their own pace,” Bass said.
With the May 17 primary election less than a month away Bass is confident that her hard work and reputation as a politician for the people will pay off. She feels that she is the right person to represent the 8th District on City Council.
“With the right leadership in City Council it can speak volume with getting people to get engaged and do more,” Bass explained, “If people feel they have support down town it really goes a long way.”
For more information on her campaign and policies, visit www.cindybass.com.