Cindy Bass wins the Eighth District Democratic Primary

In the city’s Eighth Council District, voters made their choice Tuesday from among seven candidates in the Democratic Primary, and Cindy Bass was the clear winner with 39% of the vote.

She celebrated with supporters in Mt. Airy. In her victory speech she told them it was time to get to work bringing the various political factions in the district back to a place of cooperation.

“This is a very fractured district,” she said. “We had seven people run, they all had their own constituency, and it’s really time to work with them, bring everybody to the table and to unify.”

Trends were pretty steady for most of the night. The final breakdown went as follows:

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Cindy Bass 39%  
Greg Paulmier 21.35%  
Verna Tyner 18.52 %
Howard Treatman 13.12 % 
Robin Tasco 3.21% 
Andrew Lofton 2.84% 
William Durham 1.61% 

One of the most notable details in the race is that Treatman’s $275,000 personal investment in his own campaign only yielded 2,907 votes at last count.

At 11:05 p.m. Treatman conceded the race in a solemn mood. “We ran a good race,” he told his supporters at the Commodore Barry Club in Mt. Airy. 

Former City Council staffer Verna Tyner had a stronger showing in the race but at two minutes before 11 p.m., she realized Cindy Bass had won. She was in the middle of a speech to supporters when she saw the writing on the wall and sat down to finish talking.  

“I guess I better find Cindy’s number,” she said.

She then checked how the rest of the election went before she addressed the crowd, which had diminished by about half by that time. She thanked her family and talked about the campaign.

“This has been a blessed experience for me,” Tyner said. “I met people that I never thought I would meet. I experienced love that I never thought I would experience. And you know, what we felt today throughout the day, nobody can buy.”

Voter turnout

The Committee of Seventy says the intermittent rain dampened turnout and caused minor problems at some polling places throughout the city. This seemed to be true all over the Eighth District as well.

In the 12th Ward of Germantown at 10 a.m. the dreary weather matched the turnout so far.

“It’s been a slow and steady crowd,” said Jean Lindsey. “But primaries are usually slow anyway.”

Outside the polls at the nearby Germantown Professional Building, the situation wasn’t much different.

“I think there’s been about 42 people so far,” said poll worker Curtis Hatton.  “It’s kind of slow.”

At about 1 p.m. campaign volunteers at the Chestnut Hill Library in the 9th Ward were reading novels instead of pressuring voters because there were so few there to pressure.

At E.W Rhodes School, on 29th and Clearfield streets, poll worker Denise Hailey said she has been there all day, and by 3 p.m. only about 70 out of 622 people had voted.  Hailey said that wasn’t too much different than other other off-year primaries.

And at 4:45 p.m. in the 11th Ward…

“This [turnout] is pathetic,” said Darlene Davis after voting at Thankful Baptist Church, a polling location on 17th Street and West Allegheny Ave.

The church was quiet for most of the early morning with a mere 28 voters having cast ballots as noon approached.

The race

The polls may not have been crowded in the Eighth, but the field of candidates was. Originally, 12 candidates said they’d seek the seat being vacated by 16-year incumbent Donna Reed Miller. 

Several of them dropped out and a few were picked off by legal challenges presumed to be orchestrated by front runner Cindy Bass, who has heavy political backing and a major campaign war chest. She took some early flak when volunteers from her campaign mounted those legal challenges.

The race really started to heat up when self proclaimed “fighter” and political outsider Robin Tasco claimed a Bass campaign worker named Steven Vaughn threatened her in an attempt to knock her out of the race.

Bass denied knowledge of the incident, and Vaughn denied that it happened, but many became critical of Bass for her association with Vaughn.  He is a former aide to Miller who served time in prison on corruption charges.

Vaughn is also associated with the embattled community development agency Germantown Settlement, which many in the Eighth consider a symbol of past dysfunction.

City Council staffer Verna Tyner emphasized her community roots in Tioga throughout the race, and her tight connection with local ward level politics. (She received four of seven ward endorsements). But even Tyner could not escape a negative association with politics as usual when a last-minute endorsement by Miller was followed shortly by an unprecedented raid of Miller’s City Hall office by the city’s ethics board.  The ethics panel was checking for evidence that Miller used City Council resources to publish Tyner endorsement papers.

Tyner said she had no knowledge of any inappropriate actions by Miller or Miller’s staff.

Real estate developer Howard Treatman has tried to cash in on his own outsider status in a largely self financed campaign. On May 12, his $275,000 in contributions to the effort triggered the so-called “millionaire clause” of city campaign finance law for the Eighth District race. The law allows candidates facing a hugely self-financed campaign to accept larger-than-usual contributions from individuals and political action committees supporting his opponents. This was a first in a Council race.

But possibly no one has a truer claim to the outsider moniker than track coach Andrew Lofton, who has never run for public officer before and does his politicking in conjunction with youth events, often in track shoes. “Outsider” might also be a label for Robin Tasco, who splits her time between Germantown and Rydal Pa., where her children attend public school. She has campaigned throughout the district in an actions-speak-louder than words style marked by installing new outdoor lighting at Vernon Park with virtually no fanfare.

And then there are the contradictions of Greg Paulmier and William Durham, both long active at the ward level of Democratic politics, and both laying claim a fresh outsider approaches when it comes to leading the Eighth.

Paulmier’s previous three attempts at the Eighth District seat make him arguably the most experienced campaigner in the group, and it also gives him a significant footprint in the Eighth given that he took 16 percent of the last primary vote in 2007.

Newsworks will be monitoring election results and updating this story as the results come in.


Michael Gaudini, Ellen Mattleman Kaplan, Max Matza, Andrea Lorenzo , Aden Gideon, Foluke Denis, Phil Neuffer, Dan Snyder, Juliet DeRose, Natasha A. Shapiro, Andrew Lecointe, Derek Dennis, Eliot Shorr-Parks, Kristen Mosbrucker, Bob Obrien, Yara Simon, Aaron Moselle and Alan Tu contributed reporting to the article.

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