Chestnut Hill resident with political ties enters the race for the 8th

Donna Gentile O’Donnell of Chestnut Hill is not officially running for the Eighth District Council seat that will open up next year. Not yet, anyway.

“Right now my preoccupation is to position myself to be a candidate.” she said.

That means getting signatures for nominating petitions (due Tuesday) and raising money. Having run for City Council before in 1999 for an at-large seat, she knows much of the campaign is about how you start.

In that earlier effort she came close, being declared the winner of the final opening by Channel 6 at 11 p.m. on election night, and then learning at 1 a.m. the results had changed; she was bumped out by Wilson Goode Jr.

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“So I’m very sympathetic to Al Gore on this subject,” she joked.

From now until Tuesday, O’Donnell will spend each day on the phone trying to get enough money to fund a strong campaign, and marshaling volunteers to collect those all-important signatures.

The 52-year-old Providence, R.I., holds a doctorate in public policy from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the university board at Drexel University, as well as the boards for the medical and law schools. She also serves on the Commonwealth Universal Research in Education Board, which determines how to use the state’s $11 billion settlement from the tobacco industry from 1999.

She worked as a deputy commissioner in the City Health Department under mayors Ed Rendell and John Street. In that job she put together one the nation’s first Americorp grants (before that name was coined) for a mobile child immunization effort that reached out to low income neighborhood.

O’Donnell comes to this race with some experience in city politics; in addition to her 1999 at-large bid, she is the wife of former Speaker of the Pennslyvania House Bob O’Donnell.

She described her core campaign issues as: 

Shaking up the school district. 
Bringing term limits to City Council. 
Putting the city’s abandoned and blighted land to use. 
Ending DROP, the city early retirement program.
Addressing hunger in the Eighth District.         

She summed up her case for the Council seat this way: “If you want somebody whose showing up on day one to ask serious questions and demand serious answers and work hard for this district, then I’m the gal you want to support.”

Other candidates making a bid for the Eighth include:

• Cindy Bass

• Jordan Dillard

• Bill Durham

• Anita Hamilton

• Andrew Lofton

• Greg Paulmier

• Robin Tasco

• Howard Treatman

• Verna Tyner


This is a corrected article. The earlier version mischaracterized the nature of 1999 at-large City Council election. 

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