State Rep. John Myers, a Democrat from the 201st District, and his campaign team are preparing for the race against Republican candidate Joseph Messa, an attorney in Philadelphia and Temple University alum. Myers has been the incumbent in the district since 1995.
On Oct. 11, Meyers and the Center in the Park held a health fair for senior citizens, drawing many health care-oriented vendors and older Germantown residents to the center next to Mt. Vernon Park. Myers said the No. 1 local and national priority for citizens was the economy.
“The biggest challenge in Germantown, the city of Philadelphia and the country is economic development and jobs,” Myers said. “You know we have to find the capacity and the inclination as well as the initiative to put people back to work. If people can’t go to work, then a lot of problems that exist are going to continue to exist.
Myers realizes that citizens, especially those vulnerable in his Germantown district, need services before economic and job development gain momentum.
One issue looming over the neighborhood is the Germantown Settlement, the century-old social services non-profit that is facing extinction in bankruptcy court. “I think really what we are dealing with are internal operations issues as opposed to providing services to people,” Myers said about the possible end of the organization.
The Germantown Settlement made headlines this month in Philadelphia Magazine. The article centers on the allegations of mismanagement by Emmanuel Freeman, who runs the organization. the nonprofit has had an estimated $100 million in taxpayers’ money funneled into it.
“People need the services, and we need to have the capacity to provide them with the services, so if the Settlement is going to restructure and rebuild itself, then, of course, I would support them just like I would support any other community organization in my neighborhood that are doing a good job,” he added.
The city of Philadelphia began cutting off the organization’s funding in September 2009, but some residents support it because it represents something bigger.
“You have to understand, years ago black people weren’t allowed to even walk through Vernon Park let alone sit down. Germantown Settlement began as an example of something for the black community to be proud of, when for so long things were controlled by whites, “ explained a senior citizen, who wished to remain anonymous.
“I couldn’t imagine walking into City Hall and having a meeting with [Mayor] Nutter. We are like a big family up here. John Myers is our David against the Goliath of City Hall and Harrisburg, “ he added.
“Myers is community oriented, he takes care of my income tax, food vouchers. If anybody from Germantown really needs something, he and his staff will help you out, “ said Ronald “Speedy” Daniels.
Not everyone has such strong faith.
“I’m not sure who I’ll vote for yet. I still have to educate myself about the candidates because you can’t just believe what politicians say, you have to see if they followed up with action,” said Wayne Muhammad Roper.
The most recent notable impact in Germantown was not from Myers, but was instead the recent visit of President Barack Obama on Sunday, Oct. 10. Obama urged the thousands in the field next to the Robert Fulton Elementary School to vote for the Democratic Party on Nov. 2.
“The only thing that the  election did was give us the chance to make change happen. It made each of you a shareholder in the mission of rebuilding our country and reclaiming our future,” the president told the crowd.
“And Philly, I’m back here two years later because our job is not yet done and the success of our mission is at stake right now,” he added. “On Nov. 2, I need you as fired up as you were in 2008.”
For Germantown citizens to get fired up at the local level, Muhammad Roper said that citizens should pay attention to what local politicians accomplish or fail to do in the community.
“But we shouldn’t always depend on the politicians, we can come together instead of feeling sorry for ourselves,” said Roper.
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