Connecting with the community is a common trait shared by all local politicians, but not all have the experience needed to successfully represent their constituency. With more than 20 years of Philadelphia government experience, Democrat Verna Tyner said she has the tools necessary to represent the 8th District in City Council.
Tyner, a 40-year resident of the 8th District, has been helping residents of her community since childhood when she lent a helping hand to those in need. From grocery shopping for seniors to lawn maintenance, helping people has always been a passion of hers.
“I have been working with the people all of my life and that is my passion,” Tyner said. “I have been helping people since I was 10 years old.”
From there she went on to establish one of the most successful neighborhood organizations in Philadelphia along with her mother, Irene Stewart. In 1997, they founded Tioga United, which has served communities in the 8th District in a variety of areas.
Recently, Tioga United launched a $3 million rehabilitation project within the 8th District. In addition, the organization raised outside money to rebuild the Jerome Brown Playground when the city could not afford to do so.
“She started helping people out as a kid,” Stewart said, “We are the type of people that like to help people and she has been that way her whole life.”
Outside of Tioga United, Tyner continues to add to her reputation as a politician for the people, attempting to speak to as many of her potential constituents as possible. To find resolutions to the issues facing the diverse 8th District, she knows she needs the support of the citizens to start to go in the right direction.
“Everything that I have done has been driven by the people,” Tyner said. “Every step that I have taken.”
Philadelphia politics are nothing new to Tyner, especially the work of a city councilperson. In 1995 Tyner became office manager for former Councilman Al Stewart, followed by 16 years as a chief of staff for both the late Councilman David Cohen and Councilman At-Large Bill Greenlee. Her experiences have made her more than ready to take her political career to the next level.
Former Councilman Stewart said he knows through personal experience that she is the best candidate for the district, based on one simple thing; experience. In her time working with Stewart she developed relationships throughout the community that have helped her reach as many people as possible.
“She is very efficient and she is the only one that has the experience to go to work right away,” Stewart said. “No other candidate has her experience.”
Like many other candidates in the 8th District, economic development is an issue that Tyner is addressing in her campaign. Through the efforts of her community outreach, she has brought new investors to the district to create jobs and economic opportunities for the district.
With Tyner’s help, the 8th District has gone through a remapping process which has attracted further economic development opportunities. The remapping has drawn attention to a once unattractive community, which led to a developers’ tour that hosted nearly 100 developers in and around the 8th District.
“We have done a lot in the community,” Tyner said, “More importantly, we rezoned and remapped our entire community so that we could have communication with any developers that show interest in the community.”
Economic development is only one of many of the issues that faces Tyner on her mission to represent the 8th District. Attracting young voters has brought a whole new spectrum to the Tyner Campaign.
Dwayne Lilley, the campaign deputy manager, has been working alongside Tyner for many years, dating back to her days working under his grandfather, former Congressman Stewart. He said he thinks making the campaign attractive to youth voters is very crucial in politics.
“Attracting younger voters is always a hard thing when it comes to any kind of political campaign no matter what candidate is running,” Lilley said.
The campaign is also utilizing social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook to help appeal to the youth of the community, which is something new for Tyner and the other seasoned-politicians. With the help of the younger staff and volunteers, the Tyner campaign has been able to cover the vast, diverse area of the 8th District, whether through social media or in the field doing door-to-door campaigning.
With roughly 80 staff and volunteers working in the Tyner Campaign there is not an area that goes uncovered leading up until the May 17 primary election. The amount of help that the campaign has received clearly shows the relationship Tyner has created between her and the community through her hard work and dedication.
“Verna is for the people,” Lilley said. “She is really genuine and that is why I feel really strong about supporting her.”
For more information on the Verna Tyner campaign, visit www.tynerforcouncil.com.