City Commissioner Stephanie Singer gave a two-hour workshop on Jan. 14 at 1606 Chestnut St. on how to become a committee person or member of the board of elections.
“People paid attention,” she said. “I used to teach college and I know full well what its like to teach when people had stopped paying attention.”
Singer said that two hours is a long time to listen to a presentation in a stuffy room but those who attended the event stayed with her through the course.
“I think the people of Philadelphia are civic minded and I think Philadelphians want to make their neighborhoods and their Philadelphia a better place,” she added.
Although students learn about civics and how governments work in grade school, Singer noted there is always more to learn.
“So much of what makes democracy work is cultural and happens in between what the written rules are,” Singer said.
As an example, Singer points to local leaders in the community whom elected officials often refer to in making local decisions. These leaders have a constituency which, depending on their numbers, can influence the result of elections.
“The elected officials don’t really have time to listen to the concerns of every constituent, there are just too many,” Singer said. “So what elected officials do is pay attention to local leaders.”
Deputy Commissioner Tracey Gordon is responsible for voter education and outreach and is known for her activism in the Southwest community where she resides.
“It [the event] was actually historic, the first of its kind and our office partnered with the Philadelphia chapters of the National Organization of Women [NOW] and the Coalition of Labor Union Women,” said Gordon.
“What was really surprising was the amount of people we had and their interest in just understanding learning about [the political process],” she added. “Most people don’t know that the poll workers are elected,” said Gordon.