February 24, 2015
Here's an interesting thought - Who the next mayor of Philadelphia will be matters much more than the next President of the United States, but fewer Philadelphians are likely to turn out to vote for the former.
Philadelphia Magazine's recently launched urban affairs blog, Citified, tackled this conundrum in a recent post.
Over 690,000 Philadelphians helped re-elect President Obama in 2012. Four years earlier, 718,000 showed up at the polls. Whereas 183,000 Philadelphians cast votes in the 2011 general mayoral election.
"Local officials have far more influence over the lives of the people they serve than do the high-and-mighty in Washington, D.C." - Citified.
Citified writer Patrick Kerkstra summed the situation up in two words: "stupid and a shame."
He then pointed to a similar article by Vox.com for validation, titled "While Americans focus on the 2016 presidential race, the people who directly impact their lives will quietly be elected."
"It's true that presidents can set a national economic agenda for mobility, but they can't do a lot of the practical things that make a real difference in people's lives," the Vox piece states.
"Really, if you want better economic mobility, agonizing over presidential platforms probably isn't going to pay off for you much as picking the right local officials. The choices that mayors and city councils make — from zoning to transit to education — are arguably more effective than anything the president can do, especially if you want to see it in your own life."
The article goes on to discuss the reasons why involvement in local politics trumps the personal gain from involvement in national-level politics.
The good news is there's still time to get up-to-date and involved in the upcoming city mayoral race.
For some essential reading, check out Mayor's race sure to heat up, Billy Penn's "The Philly Neighborhood Index: Mayoral Candidate Edition" and Citified's "Candidate Conversation Series."