FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Alison Perelman, Philadelphia 3.0
David Thornburgh, Committee of Seventy
Broad Based Coalition Calls for City Council to Create a new Department of Elections
To be administered by Election Director appointed by the Mayor
with oversight by appointed, bipartisan Philadelphia Board of Elections
PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 4, 2016) – A diverse coalition of a dozen civic and community organizations known as the Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition (BPEC) today urged City Council to replace the elected City Commissioners with appointed professionals to provide the leadership necessary to modernize Philadelphia’s elections. By law, the measure would need to be signed by the Mayor and approved by City voters.
The Coalition called on City Council to create a new Department of Elections administered by a professionally-accredited Election Director appointed by the Mayor, with oversight provided by an appointed, non-salaried, and bipartisan Philadelphia Board of Elections.
“The problems with the Office of the City Commissioners--political maneuvering, ineffective and inattentive leadership, and a lack of accountability--have persisted for decades. We need less political and more professional leadership to make our local democracy work to its greatest potential”, said Alison Perelman, Executive Director of Philadelphia 3.0, a city reform organization and one of the leaders of the Coalition.
Research into election governance and leadership in other cities and counties convinced the Coalition this proposal will position Philadelphia to achieve significant progress on six important challenges facing the local voting process:
David Thornburgh, CEO, Committee of Seventy, the longstanding advocate for better government, said “The elected office of City Commissioners is an obscure artifact from the past, and has never served the people well. It’s a hidden office that costs too much—almost a half million dollars, or enough to fund Pre-K slots every year for 118 children--and it doesn’t deliver good results. Philadelphia needs professional, progressive, accountable leadership to modernize elections and lead us into the future.”
The nonpartisan Coalition consists of the following organizations: Americans for Democratic Action, Asian Americans United, Committee of Seventy, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Fifth Square, Influencing Action Movement, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Philadelphia 3.0, Philly Progressive Caucus, Public Interest Law Center, SEAMAAC. These are the first 12 organizations to step forward as members of the coalition, but the Coalition is expected to grow in coming weeks.
In addition to Perelman and Thornburgh, speakers at the Coalition’s press conference included:
Dissatisfaction with the Office of the City Commissioners has been growing steadily for months. Recently, more than 1,200 citizens signed onto a Change.org petition calling for the elimination of the office, and former City Commissioner and member of City Council Marian Tasco announced her support for the proposal. For more information, and to keep up to date on the coalition’s efforts, follow the Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition on Facebook.