Power and influence in Philadelphia politics is drawn from the ward system. The city has 66 wards in all, each with a ward leader who can deeply influence elections and award patronage jobs to loyal party members. Both major parties maintain these opaque organizations, as part of the “political machine” in Philadelphia and steered by a handful of local power players. The ward leaders, though, are elected by committeepeople, who are elected by voters once every four years. Closed as the system is, it’s possible for newcomers to break in.
And in 2014, an impressive number of young people ran for the position of committeeperson, many successful in winning roles in their ward.
This SOYP event features a diverse panel of young committeepeople who will reflect on their experiences - from rowdy ward meetings to questionable relationships between wards and candidates. But they’ll also reflect on their decision to jump into the political fray to have a positive impact on their community and the city. After the program, stay and network with the panelists and other politically engaged young people.
Longtime political reporter Dave Daviesof WHYY Newsworks will moderate the panel, providing an overview of the old, yet powerful ward system that, for many candidates, determines winners and losers.
The political landscape of Philly is evolving, and these young men and women are leading the change.
Packed house for Ward Politics 101 in 2014