Why I'll Vote for Dwight Evans

If you begin reading this with the assumption that nothing I could say would be able to convince you that Dwight Evans is the most qualified man to serve in City Hall, you might as well click to the next thread. Unlike many of the posters here, I am not going to tell you that my candidate is perfect, and yours is not. I’m not going to say that my candidate has the best plan for every single issue hurting Philadelphia, because quite honestly he doesn’t. What I am going to proudly say is that he is in my young philadelphian political opinion and without question the most qualified to be Mayor, and has the experience, charisma, and ideas to lead the city out of a difficult time in our history. My intention with this post is simple: before this election concludes next week, it needs to be known that Dwight Evans is a hardworking, dedicated, and humble public servant, and would make our city proud as Mayor.

Now I am no fool, I know what the polls say and most likely what will happen. While I think the media’s direct influence over the campaign has crippled Dwight’s ability to connect with undecided voters, I’m not going to take anything away from the frontrunners in this post, despite having my own opinions, which I have shared from time to time.

The first time I met Dwight Evans was in 2001 as a student body president for a university in PA. We went to see Rep. Evans to seek his support for increasing state appropriations to avoid costly tuition increases that would widen the knowledge gap based on income and, race. He sat and focused the entire time I spoke, allowing me go through my carefully prepared “schpiel”, which was complete with excel charts and fancy literature. After I was finished, I asked for his thoughts, he replied, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” I said, “Excuse me?” He replied (and I paraphrase from what I can remember of our convo, it was 6 years ago) “I know the knowledge gap exists but what kind of person would I be if I told my parents in NW Philadelphia that it was ok to give more money to a multi-billion dollar institution, while their children don’t have access to a simple textbook or functioning toilet at school?” What do you say to that? I’m sure if I had a bit more experience as a lobbyist, I would have had something snappy, but I knew from that moment that while I was furious at him for making me look foolish in front of the group, he had a point, and his heart was where it needed to be. Anyone who knows Dwight knows that unlike many other local elected officials, you don’t need to worry about whether his heart and mind are in the right place, it’s just always been a given.

A few years earlier, Dwight helped engineer the state’s charter school laws. Excuse me?! School choice?! Doesn’t that go against every fundamental education belief of the progressive movement? I came to understand down the road that the issue for Dwight wasn’t taking money away from public schools and redirecting them to charters. It was about giving working parents more choices, so that while the Philadelphia School District needed and still needs massive reform, parents had a few options available to them if they were dissatisfied with what the public schools had to offer. To some extent, I still partly disagree with this, but I have come to respect his rationale that just because urban parents with limited incomes live in the 7th largest district in the nation, their tax dollars should still be able to get them access to whatever education they felt was best for their child. Agree or disagree, it was an unpopular decision Dwight made knowing that the political fallout was meaningless compared to the idea that parents who wanted more of a stake in their child’s education might now have that freedom.

Of course the controversy over Charters was nothing compared to the school takeover, another decisive moment in our city’s recent history. Dwight has a simple saying that he repeats a lot in campaign appearances and I recall it even being on one of his ads: Do Something. And something needed to be done about the school district. I’m not going to proclaim that the state takeover has completely turned the district around, because we all know that’d be a lie. But instead of just taking the advice of other leaders and simply replacing Hornbeck with another chief executive to repeat the same mistakes over again, Dwight chose to support drastic action. The City was not living up to it’s moral and ethical commitment to its students, so instead of pretending that political discourse would solve this problem and letting the Street administration mismanage this problem even more, Dwight made what he knew to be an unpopular choice. Unpopular, but necessary. Now we can argue the nuances of this deal, but I mention all this to point out a few things: Dwight does not make decisions based upon what is politically fruitful, he makes them based on what he thinks the long term commitment might yield. History will prove whether he was right or wrong, but in a time when pay-to-play politics, corruption, mismanagement, political infighting, and opposition suppression runs wild in City Hall and in the local democratic party, we have a man in this race who is able to transcend that. Edison, Victory, Temple, Penn, and Foundations have not yet turned these schools around, but they have taken some of the most difficult circumstances in the entire system and attempted to make them work. It’s right that we hold them accountable for what they do and cost. But it’d be stubborn and criminal to say that the District didn’t need outside help. And until the city and district have serious, long-term plans for funding and reform that they can commit to, regaining control from the State would only be a move to satisfy political needs. Students don’t care about whether the state or city oversees their principals; they just want a future. Until we figure out the best way to give it to them, we need the state’s support.

Crime is a tough issue to talk about, and admittedly one that I am no expert on. What I do know is that violence is not just a product of inadequate police funding or lack of truancy officers. Violence is a sad communal trait that has embedded itself into our youth and culture, where it has become the norm that the way to react to a problem is to fight or use a weapon. I say this because throwing 1000 or 5000 more police officers on the street won’t change a thing until we begin to look at the root of violent behavior, and begin training the next generation of Philadelphians to handle conflict differently. Jobs are important to keep at-risk people from staying out of questionable behavior, but again, it won’t just magically change the psychological impulse to react that comes from years of growing up in violent circumstances.. This isn’t just an economic or judicial problem; it’s a sociological problem. Dwight demonstrates this through his famous table analogy, which you can see here: http://evansformayor.com/media/video/table/. We need to begin looking into crime by empowering communities, not just cops. We need the clergy to be more visible. We need to embrace community-based organizations and give them funding to provide programming for education and outreach. We don’t need martial law, we need citizen’s rule, and you cannot empower communities with a stop-and-frisk policy. We need a safer Philadelphia, and that begins through empowering one block at a time.

The common criticism I’ve heard of Dwight is that he’s a great legislator and Philadelphia needs him badly to stay as Appropriations Chair. Some people have told me that he’s foolish for forsake one of the most powerful positions in Pennsylvania for Mayor of a struggling, divided city. For Dwight, it’s not about power or executive privilege. It’s about where he feels he can make the good and necessary decisions, and be as much a part of the solution as he can be. For him, that’s in City Hall.

Now I know what many people are thinking: Dwight’s chances are slim and impossible. A vote for Evans is a vote better spent keeping Tom Knox out of office, or something along those lines. Strategic voting. Believe me, I’ve thought a lot about it. I voted strategically in 2003 because I foolishly thought I needed to keep Ashcroft and Bush out of my city. Look where that got us, but I got a good lesson came from that. I voted strategically in 2004, even though I was tempted to vote Green and have about as much in common with John Kerry as I do with George W. Dumbass (although I did vote for Dean anyway even though he was out by that point). That turned out well, too. Whether its Nutter, Knox, Fattah, Brady, or Evans, I need to know that I voted for the best man for the job, in my own opinion anyway. Ed Rendell agrees with me. Rep. Mark Cohen agrees with me. The Philadelphia Tribune agrees with me. Dwight Evans is the right choice.

My message with this post is 2 fold:
1. Don’t vote for the person you think is most electable. Don’t vote for someone because they aren’t Tom Knox or John Street or Bob Brady. Vote for whom you like, because you need to be able to look into the mirror a few years down the road and know you voted for the person whom you felt at the time was best for our city. Most of you have already selected your candidate, but for any of those 21% of undecided, forget the ads and mud slinging and vote your conscious, even if your conscious is polling last.
2. We have an amazing friend in Dwight Evans, who has the courage, leadership, experience, influence, and charisma to inspire an uninspired city and actually do something, even if it’s not the most politically safe. We have a man whose ego is not on his list of priorities, and has been able to demonstrate clear leadership that has had actual, tangible results that can be pointed to.

Before you go to the voting booth, even if you already know who you are supporting, do yourself a favor and just take a look at Dwight’s website to learn more about him. I don’t work for Dwight; I don’t have time to volunteer for him. I’d give him more $ if I honestly had it. But being what I think is an avid YPP reader, it was important to me to say all this publicly so others can understand why Dwight Evans’ supporters are so loyal and why having him in City Hall would be a great thing for Philadelphia. And as a supporter, giving 30 min of my night to type this post for you seemed like a good way to spread his message and contribute to the dialogue. Thanks for reading.

Exellent post

And very well-written.

It's nice to read someone who can make a case for his candidate without stooping to mind-numbing rhetoric.

I've got big problems with some of Evans' positions - primary among them being his continued support for Vallas (despite Vallas' failure to keep the books properly or reduce class sizes), and I've been far less than impressed with his performances during the debates (the next sentence he finishes before beginning another sentence will be the first), but your post really helped me to bring into focus some sense that I've had about the quality of person Evans is - and I agree that it is a quality that is important in a mayor. And I've felt all along that Evans is the one candidate who has the most credibility on the violence issue, and who would be most likely to be able to effectively implement a crime reduction policy.

So, thanks for the post. I don't know if you convinced me, but surprisingly, after reading you post Evans is at least back up among the candidates I'll consider.

BTW, I vote for this post to be bumped to the front page.

Dwight Evans will definately

Dwight Evans will definately get more than 3% of the vote between his base in Oaklane and his endorsements. I think his machine gives Derek Green a fighting chance. Very nice endorsement disgruntled!

Oak Lane...

two words.

East Oak Lane

And to think I lived in East Oak Lane for twenty five years. Oh well. Thanks for the correction.

That's awesome I grew up...

in Olney

Most of my friends lived in

Most of my friends lived in Olney because East Oak Lane was all of six blocks wide by my end. Lots of my relatives still live in Olney. The neighborhood was pretty awesome to grow up in due to its diversity. The one thing we young kids really despised were the kids in Lawncrest. I still can barely stand to drive through certain sections of the NE. It's completely irrational but old habits die hard.

We did battle w/ lawncrest...

after HS we became friends but it was a territorial thing. Especially if you dated someone from the others neighborhood.

Thanks!

Thanks!
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I support, but do not work or volunteer for Dwight Evans

Great post, but you will

Great post, but you will essentially be voting for Knox. A vote for Dwight is a vote for Knox.

That was a heartfelt post, but

I can't accept a policy on the basis that something has to be done. And then you suspend judgment on what the policy is, like the privatization of the schools. And don't forget, that's what Dwight, along with Perzel, was out to do with the school district, privatize it completely. It didn't happen because Street, with an assist from Fattah, went to war against it. And Dwight also, inexplicably, led the successful effort to preempt the City's power to regulate predatory lending. In that, he had the support of Street. I've always liked Dwight for what seemed to be good instincts, intelligence and a tremendous seriousness of purpose. But I can't put aside his bad judgments in these areas and his general willingness to go along with Perzel when the former Speaker was busy trying to take power over everything in the City that wasn't nailed down.

I like the heartfelt post

I like the heartfelt post and feel similarly about Dwight. I worked with a former staffer in his office who passed away unexpectedly several years ago and got to know about Dwight and his office.

I found him to be passionate about schools, neighborhoods, crime and willing to do whatever needed to be done to get it accomplished, and I respect him greatly for that.

However, like Stan, I disagreed with his support of privatizing the schools. (Like all of them.) But, Dwight is a super smart guy that's not willing to let what others think define the future of the constituencies he cares about. And he is about action. If you go to Ogontz Avenue, you can see tangible evidence of success on a variety of fronts. All done by Dwight. That's worthy of a vote.

My issue in this campaign is that I feel the same way about most of the candidates. Brady has always been willing to come and get the job done as a peacemaker in neighborhoods you would never expect. He talks about his work at CCP's union fights, but there have been North Philly community meetings that are about to break out in serious fights. (I mean like physical fights.) Brady showed up, promised, and delivered. No cameras, no fanfare. No newsletter proclaiming job well done.

I was always impressed with Nutter when he turned down the City car and drove a gold Acura/Honda everywhere. (That's bold enough b/c its a foreign car.) He wrote his own legislation, and knew the details. He knew every part of the City budget better than almost anyone not named Rob Dubow. He was a working Councilman staying up nights to think about how to make the City better. He was constantly thinking of new ways to improve the City, and not seemingly for his own fame.

Fattah's GEAR UP campaign has changed lots of lives. I've been to the conference and seen the impressive speakers and thousands of students with lives changed in college. Many congressman will not have a legacy as good as that.

Truthfully, I had not heard of/worked with, Tom Knox prior to this campaign. But his hard luck upbringing does not seem forced.

To me, it is a tough choice, b/c I had a chance to see most of the candidates up close and was impressed with what I saw. Dwight is no less deserving of votes just because others may get more.
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I do not work for/support any candidate for any office in Philadelphia.

Stan, Truth, and D.E.

Thanks for offering meaningful constructive criticism, and you all have valid arguments. It's refreshing to see that a few regular posters here can still debate with actual facts and references, rather than heresay and tired rhetoric.
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I support, but do not work or volunteer for Dwight Evans

History repeats itself

Dwight Evans ran an admiral campaign and comes off in person as heck of a nice guy. I think I would really enjoy a conversation with him.
Most Evans supporters I have met are much like Nutter supporters. They are intelligent, interested, and believe in treating people fairly. They know that to reduce poverty and crime you have to grow the economy and not just raise taxes and give away money.
But alas, history does repeat itself. The last time Evans ran for Mayor he got 3% of the vote. That is right where he is now.
So if Evans was your first choice, I hope Nutter is your second choice and you'll make your vote count.

I'm making my vote count...

Evans may be the best candidate but I'm voting for Knox because I don't want a dlc dem or Republican as mayor of my city. Thanks.

Sadly enough...

... I think that Knox is, by and large, a DLC Dem.

What would you call him?
-Z

An outsider...

I believe that Nutter can do damage to the Dem Party. Nutter is an actual member of the DLC. He will be horrible for the progressive cause because he is a dem politician. Knox can do no damage to the party or the progressive because of who he is.

I note that the DLC is

I note that the DLC is currently promoting such renowned un-progressive Democrats such as Gavin Newsom and Cory Booker. Obviously, the DLC in general has not always been a progressive organization, but you'd lose a lot of good people if you dismissed everyone who ever associated with it.

And I think Knox can hurt the party - by being a bad mayor. He's an opportunist and a lightweight, and he's flooding the campaign with his own money, which is legal but unethical and undesirable.

***
Volunteering for Michael Nutter

Those are Republican talking points, Keith

It's certainly interesting what a wide and differing range of definitions for progressive the posters on this site have.

Oh I see Stan

Providing jobs, creating save neighborhoods, improving schools, improving peoples lives, those are Republican talking points? Stan buddy wake up. All people regardless of party affliation want those things. The difference between Dems and Repubs is how you attain them. I'm willing to bet you voted for Al Gore in 2000 who favored targeted tax cuts.

And again history repeats itself which is why studying economic history should be a mandate for any politician. It demonstrates that while tax cuts are not very effcetive at the national level, they are extremely effective at the local level.

And Dwight Evans is by accounts a nice guy. Even though he knows I don't support him, he always makes a point to greet me in a friendly way. I say the same thing about Fattah. But the fact is Dwight got 3% of the vote last time with the same base, and history is set to repeat itself.

Make your vote count, support Nutter who is better person and will be a much better mayor than Knox.

Economic History

And again history repeats itself which is why studying economic history should be a mandate for any politician. It demonstrates that while tax cuts are not very effcetive at the national level, they are extremely effective at the local level.

Could you point me to those studies?

Nutter's proposed tax cuts are not targeted

That's the point I've been making for the last hundred years on this site; why you refuse to see that is beyond me. I am for targeted tax cuts; he has never expressed support for them. You can find my plan for targeted tax cuts here. http://youngphillypolitics.com/node/1926

Nutter sought to abolish the BPT. Not for small businesses, not for businesses engaged in some socially useful activity, not for businesses hiring minorities or subcontracting with minority or female owned businesses, but for ALL BUSINESSES. He thinks Comcast and your local dry-cleaner both need and deserve the same tax cut even though Comcast would benefit from it 200 times more than that dry-cleaner. That is Republican tax cutting, Keith buddy, to the core.

And it is nonsense, as I've pointed out before, that local tax cuts, or any other kind, don't require downsizing government in the absence of compensating revenues. They may be useful in attracting business, but they don't come for free. Nutter pretends that they do. No one else who's serious believes that. So get out your pencil and figure out what services or jobs you would like to eliminate, or other tax, like the real estate tax you would like to raise. Because that's what's coming.

For Old Time's Sake

Nutter's position on the BPT: eliminate the gross receipts portion over a period of years, bring the net income down to the same level as the wage tax.

And it's across the board,

not targeted.

Oh Stanley

Nutter wants to make the City a more competitive place for business growth and relocation; simple as that. He and his supporters also care about a lot of other things too. Question for you: you were with the City for a long time. Which Mayor did you like best and why?

Given all the talk about higher ed and degrees

and how much candidates need them, what is it about simple that's necessarily good respecting taxes? Is it too complex to consider targeting businesses that need tax cuts to prosper or move here, which ones tend to hire folks, and which don't, which are green, which aren't, which would just be getting a windfall, and which wouldn't? This is desperately needed money we're talking about giving away here. Don't you think it's an area which might actually call for a little complex thinking?

Mayors I liked? None. They've all been trickle-down and here we are.

Stan: I Agree with You

A little targeting just might work. I re-read your post and it makes a lot of sense to me. It's not an area of policy that I know a lot about, so I'm unclear on the legal permissibility piece. Complex thinking on the issue is great, as long as we agree that promoting business growth and relocation in and to Philadelphia is a good thing, because people needs jobs.

By the way, my son Sam is four years old today. He's announced that he's running for Mayor in 2043.

Whew!

I never thought I'd hear the words "I agree" from you on taxes, Friedman. Now all you have to do is get your candidate to budge a little, and there might be a little hope that he doesn't run into a stone wall trying to keep all his promises.

Congratulations to your son and his campaign. I don't think I'll be around in Philadelphia in 2043 to vote for him though. I'd love to cast an absentee ballot for Sam, but I don't think the mail service is too good where I expect to be.

Community

I linked from PhillyBlog and want to thank disgruntled for an excellent post. I am supporting Dwight Evans because of his understanding of community; in Philadelphia and online. Dwight is the first candidate in this election to make himself accessible on facebook, flickr, and youtube. With Knox and Nutter throwing a lot of money at television ads, it is refreshing to see a transparent candidate that conducts weekly video broadcasts and blogs regularly with his constituents.

David

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