Looking Back on 2018 and Moving Forward in 2019

Last year, 2018, was a watershed year for Philly Neighborhood Networks. We ran robust electoral campaigns while also working on important issues.  This laid the foundation for an even more exciting year ahead.  And none of this would have been possible without the participation of our many volunteers who canvassed the voters, advocated and lobbied our public officials, and organized at the community level.  So thank you great members and supporters for taking this journey with Philly Neighborhood Networks and we look forward to you staying on for the ride ahead.  

This past year, we saw some fine examples of what can happen when we stand together

  • Committee Person Project – As a giant first step toward revitalizing the Democratic Party, we, together with our partner Reclaim Philadelphia, recruited, trained, and supported around 170 candidates to run for Committee Person, and many of them were elected.
  • Spring Primary – Our endorsed candidates won their primaries: Chris Rabb, Joe Hohenstein, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Liz Fiedler for the PA State House; and Art Haywood for PA Senate.
  • Education – After years of struggle, we helped bring a new school board into existence to replace the SRC. We also advocated for fair funding of our public schools, including visits to legislators, testimony at the budget hearings, and rallies. 
  • Training Workshops – Trained volunteers throughout NW Philly on how to do effective canvassing.
  • Public Banking – Obtained funding for a Feasibility Study bringing us one step closer to a public bank in Philly.
  • General Election – With weekly canvasses, outreach and a paid organizer, we engaged hundreds of volunteers in NW Philly to help increase the turnout in the mid term elections with all of our endorsed candidates getting elected.
  • Turn PA Blue- Organized cores of volunteers to work in the suburbs to help elect Democrats to the PA legislature, helping us to move closer to gaining control. 
  • Fair Work Week Bill – Gathered over 500 petitions in favor of the bill, lobbied, and came out in force at the public hearings to help ensure its passage at the end of the year.

This coming year 2019 promises to be another year filled with opportunities and challenges. The electoral arena will shift to the local level as all 17 City Council seats, many judicial seats and the office of the Mayor will be on the ballot. In the first part of 2019, Philly NN will engage in an endorsement process that will produce a slate of progressive candidates to rally behind.  Tim Brown, our organizer, will then develop the field operation to support them. We will build on our cadre of volunteers from last year, provide further training, and continue to engage the electorate.  So stay tuned – it’s all about to happen!

On the advocacy front, we will be jumping into many more important issues. Already, we are spearheading a campaign that goes to the heart of our democracy – Making Sure That Every Vote Is Counted. Philadelphia must meet the Governor’s mandate to have a new Voting System in place in time for the 2020 Presidential election which means that Philadelphia will make a final selection of new machines sometime in February 2019. We organized a grassroots coalition to push for the machines that are most secure from hacking and easiest to use. The campaign will promote an aggressive advocacy plan and will engage voters in many ways. Time is of the essence- contact tim@phillynn.orgif you can get involved. 

Other issues will come up as the year progresses.  Public education will once again be a focus as we continue to demand more and fairer funding for our schools. With democratic control over our money being one of our guiding principles, we will return to public banking and find new avenues to advance the creation of a Philadelphia Public Bank.  And we are part of a coalition of groups that are developing a Peoples Platform that will hold our elected officials accountable as we stand together to end mass incarceration, support education and housing for all, create a just economy, steward our environment, and protect immigrants’ and workers’ rights.  

Philly NN intends to move proactively to build our power and agenda and not just reactively to resist the vagaries of one mad politician in Washington. So join us this year as we moveour city, state, and country in a direction that puts people first.

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Margaret Lenzi

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