Jeff Hornstein would be a really, really, really good Councilman

It is election season around here. In 2007, back when we (Jennifer, Ray, myself, etc.) were just youngsters, with not a care in the world, YPP was a hopping place for elections. This year, with no Mayoral race, and many of the regular writers prevented from writing nearly as often (or as opinionated), this has been quieter. Still, I don’t want to have the entire election season slip away without making a couple of personal comments about the candidates.

The First District race has gotten some mild attention, where there is a race to replace the retiring Frank DiCicco. There is no question in my mind that there is a clear choice here, with a candidate who would be a great, great City Councilman: Jeff Hornstein. I am far from rich, but, I have donated what I can to Jeff, and, after I click post, I plan to do so again.

Why Jeff? He is a progressive running for office who, when asked why someone should vote for him, can do more than say he has the right values, or that he is smart, or that he checks the right boxes on a questionnaire. Instead, he can point to years of fighting for and with working class Philadelphians, for progressive labor, for machine-challenging political candidates, and more. (SEIU, with Jeff as a driving force there, is probably one of two unions in the city that have made impactful endorsements for upstart political candidates.) Jeff would not just bring a new, smart outlook- he would be a progressive organizer, put into a position where he could advance smart ideas to make our city a better place.

Jeff is endorsed by almost every progressive group out there. He does the work. He has the values. When there has been a fight for progressive policies in the city, Jeff has been there. If he wins, he will still be there, but with a much larger platform. He is the real deal. He is worth your support.

Of course, the race has another progressive in it- Joe Grace. Many Philly liberals, along with the past couple of Mayors, like him. He was ED of Ceasefire PA, a crucially important organization that does good work. He knows his way around City Hall. I think he would probably be pretty good at the job.

There is also Mark Squilla. I don’t know a ton about him. That he can so easily unite the South Philly Hatfields and McCoys, after a quick meeting with Bob Brady, is mildly scary, and a win very much reinforces the power of the old school South Philly political powers. Still, I don’t have anything bad to say about him, and his proposed agenda looks generally good. I simply know very little about him, and have no idea what kind of Councilman he would be.

At its core, this is not about the other guys, but about Jeff. When one of our city’s many unsung progressives, who has been doing great, courageous work for years, decides to run for office, I jump.

Time to get out the battered credit card…

I agree, Dan - and well said!

I agree, Dan - and well said!

It's true, Jeff Hornstein is #1

in District 1.

I'm with Joe Grace

Sorry guys, going to have to disagree on this one.

Having worked with Joe Grace in Harrisburg the past few years I've seen his passion and tenacity and his vision and experience puts him in a much better position to be effective on council than Jeff. I do like Jeff, and think he would be still be an improvement if elected, but I think Joe has better ideas and, having been a legislative staffer himself, knows how to get it done. Having seen how the sausage is made up close as a staffer can be hugely important, especially in such a body that is as tough to navigate as Council. I'm usually not one to sing the praises of experience but his experience is grounded in very solid progressive policy which puts it over the top.

Joe has been endorsed by the Inquirer, the Daily News and bid Ed. He's our best shot to elect a progressive in this seat, and I think he he will make a great councilman. He could use some help if anyone wants to pitch in to make sure he wins:

I find the choice depressing

I'd really love to have a councilcritter who can speak to revitalize Philadelphia by expanding attractiveness to educated professionals. But the way they have split up the district to have both parts of deep south philly and the upper NE areas means that the nature of the district is diluted. Someone tell me how their education and life experiences OUTSIDE PHILADELPHIA have broadened their horizons about what they want to see IN PHILADELPHIA? I am tired of hearing how someone has lived in their neighborhood all their life -- narrowminded burghers.

This is just silly, not to mention insulting

Like most cities, Philadelphia is diverse. And the First District is just a microcosm of that diversity. If you don't like multiculturism, "phillychuck", either stay in your home with your windows and doors shut, or move . . . far, far away.

Certainly there's usefulness to a particular candidate having had life experiences in different places. For instance, that's one of the most attractive things about Barack Obama, except to a certain lunatic fringe in this country.

Specifically as to Jeff Hornstein, he has a diverse background not only in geography, but in academic and work experience. Rather than just throwing up a lump of mud to see how much sticks, you could have gone to Jeff's website to see this:

By training, Jeff is a business historian, with a BS from MIT, an MA from Penn, and PhD from Maryland. He is the author of the well-regarded A Nation of Realtors: A Cultural History of the Twentieth-Century American Middle Class. . . .

After finishing his book, which examined the creation and pursuit of the American Dream, Jeff left academia and turned to labor organizing for more hands-on experience helping people actually achieve that dream. For the past six years he has been organizing Philadelphia janitors for SEIU Local 32BJ.

Jeff's ideas reflect the diversity of his life experience and his admirable intellectual accomplishment. He would focus like a laser beam on what should be the jewel of the City, the Delaware River waterfront, making it both a place that people want to be, and the first class port that it used to be. He would find investment dollars to create that reality in new and creative ways. And all the while he would be sensitive to the needs and legitimate demands of those who need immediate help in this City through tax policies, and market place regulations that would directly ease their burdens. Intellect, experience, and sensitivity to the needs of working and poor Philadelphians: that's not a bad set of guiding principles for any politician, no matter where in the world he's called his home.

not quite

I am sorry. This city will not get better by continuing to pander to the "working class". His academic pedigree is wonderful, but I've seen little evidence he breaks out of the box of whatever everyone else says. And I work in West Philly. I just would like someone to have a key portfolio of representing the folks that have resulted in the only neighborhood growth - and that is the educated professionals in center city.

Well, it's nice, Chuck, that you're coming out of the closet to

flaunt your elitism. And showing your complete disdain for regular working people is quite audacious even though you're hiding behind a pseudonym. So thanks for dropping by phillychuck; I'm feelin' ya. I'd recommend that you and all your educated professional friends secede from Philly and form your own town. You should also send the riffraff packing but then . . . who would do your dry cleaning and your manicures?


First, I do not view the word "elitist" as a pejorative -- though I suspect you do.

Second, look at the map of the councilmanic districts. Doesn't it strike you as odd that Center City is divided up into 3 or so separate districts -- therefore there is no councilman who has a constituency primarily of Center City residents. I'm sure if Bella Vista or Kensington or Mt. Airy were so divided there would be no end of ruckus to that.

I like the diversity of Philadelphia, which is why I've lived and worked here for 20 years. However I'd like my elected representatives be attuned to my interests. The facts on the ground indicate that Center City and immediately adjacent neighborhoods are the ones that are growing. Presumably this continued growth is something to be nurtured, and it is time for folks to ask what is it about the Center City neighborhoods that can be used to jumpstart those in concentric rings around CC.

The thing about elitists is that they tend to whine

With three districts containing parts of Center City, what that means is that Center City has three times the representation of other parts of the City. Actually it has even more representation than that, considering the number of At-Large members who fall all over themselves finding ways to build up CC. Councilmembers listen to what CC residents have to say because that's where the rich people and big businesses are. If you didn't notice, those two classes tend to get overrepresented in decision-making, no matter how district lines are drawn. You are even aware of the evidence. You pointed out yourself that CC is and has been thriving for years. But, as is the wont with elitists, you have most of the power, but it's never enough.

East Kensington

Well, East Kensington IS divided into at least two councilmanic districts, and great things are happening there in spite of ineffective city government. Artists and professionals are moving in, there is an amazing new coffee shop there that doubles as a community center with activities for children after school, an active and organized neighbors' association, and yes, "phillychuck", people who are well-spoken, articulate, and educated...and engaged in their neighborhood's development, and prepared to face the challenges ahead.

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