All 17 city council seats are up for re-election in Philadelphia next year, and it appears the 8th District in Northwest Philadelphia will host another lively contest.
The district runs from Tioga in North Philadelphia to Chestnut Hill, and incumbent Donna Reed Miller managed to win re-nomination in the Democratic primary with just 30 percent of the vote four years ago in a crowded field.
Miller hasn’t said if she’s running again, but she’s signed up for the controversial DROP retirement program that will give her a $190,000 lump sum payment next year. It would be a political liability for her to take the cash and then seek re-election.
Tioga resident Verna Tyner is one of at least three candidates who plan to challenge Miller in the May 17 party primary. Tyner said she has a long history of community activism.
“My mother had me volunteering for the neighbors ever since I was ten years old,” Tyner said. “I was junior block captain, block captain, (and) a committeeperson.”
Tyner is a former chief of staff for Councilman Bill Greenlee, and she’s picked up some support among Democratic ward leaders.
Also in the race are Cindy Bass, an aide to Congressman Chakah Fattah, and Germantown activist Greg Paulmier, who’s run three times before. Attorney Irv Ackelsberg, who ran four years ago, is surveying the field.
Paulmier said he’s calling the other candidates in an effort to avoid another primary in which Miller’s rivals split the opposition vote.
“I’m going to continue to work towards unity with candidates running against the incumbent, in an effort to unify,” Paulmier said, “because I think we owe that to the people who are really left without leadership here in the eighth district.”
Several candidates say they want to unify around a common candidacy, but it’s not clear when or if that might happen.