Ever since Eighth District Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller announced that she would not seek re-election all eyes have been on who will battle it out for the open seat.
Monday, Irv Ackelsberg, who finished third to Miller in a close 2007 Democratic Primary, announced to NewsWorks that he will not run again. His decision could change the calculus for those remaining in the race.
In his announcement, Ackelsberg said he feels he could do better work reforming the district from outside of city government.
“One of my main motivations in running four years ago was to help reverse decades of decay and demoralization in Germantown,” he wrote. “I’m still committed to reversing those negative forces, but at this moment, I believe I can make a bigger contribution in ways other than pursuing the Eighth District seat.”
Ackelsberg mentions the closing of Germantown Settlement and Miller’s decision to vacate the council seat as two major reasons he thinks gains are now possible from outside the political system.
Another important factor contributing to his decision is the growth of Germantown Community Connection, he said. It is a non-profit group devoted to building a local forum and organizational connections among existing Germantown agencies and residents. Ackelsberg, a lawyer, represented GCC in the federal bankruptcy hearings of Germantown Settlement last fall and successfully advocated for Settlement’s liquidation.
In a crowded field four years ago, Ackelsberg won 25.24 percent of the Democratic vote, while Cindy Bass, an aid for U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) earned 26.5 percent, and Donna Reed Miller took home the win with 31.58 percent.
Bass has already announced her candidacy for this year’s race. Ackelsberg’s departure, and an announcement last week by expected candidate Derek Green that he also would not run this year appears to put Bass in a very strong position.
Germantown resident and former ward leader Gregg Paulmier, who four years ago had a strong showing with 16.25 percent of the Primary vote, has also confirmed his candidacy.
Other announced candidates for this year’s race include community organizer and health educator John Churchville of Germantown, community activist Anita Hamilton of Germantown, and Tioga resident Verna Tyner, a former staffer for Councilman-at-large Bill Greenlee.
Germantown lawyer, Maurice Houston, who in 2007 won .11 percent of the Democratic vote has not ruled out an Eighth District run this year.
Other potential candidates include Latrice Bryant, an aide to Councilman Wilson Goode, Mt. Airy resident Andrew Lofton, and Chestnut Hill resident Donna Gentile O’Donnell, a lawyer and the wife of the former speaker of the Pa. House Bob O’Donnell.
Read the full text of Ackelsberg announcement here.