Low turnout expected in Germantown

Despite the unseasonably warm, sunny weather, many expect election turnout in Germantown to be low.

“It’s been very slow,” 12th Ward leader, John Connelly said two hours into Election Day morning. “Thank God it isn’t raining. Once the general election is over, most candidates don’t seem to work as hard to let the public know there’s another election and to educate the community.”

Regular volunteers confirmed that the local elections generally draw low turnout in Germantown, but this year numbers are expected to be even lower.

“I don’t hear anybody talking about the election,” said James Burch, one of two committeepeople of the 13th Ward who voted at the Universal Missionary Baptist Church on 4401 Germantown Ave. “They’re just not interested. People need a job. They want work. That’s what’s on their minds.”

For voters, too, jobs and the economy are consistently a primary issue of concern.

“We need people to help this community,” said Darlene Pryor, who cast her vote at the Holy Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on 5315 Germantown Ave. “We need jobs. A lot of people running around here don’t have jobs.”

Many agreed that in order for these benefits to come to the community, participating in voting is important.

“Politicians control the goods and services of your community. If you participate in choosing your politicians, you can determine who controls these goods and services,” said Connelly, who thinks insufficient education is why many residents in the area don’t come out to vote. “The black community in particular is disenchanted, and it’s a lack of education. We need to educate the people on the need to vote and let them know how it’ll affect the community if they don’t participate. Politicians only listen to numbers. You don’t vote and your politicians won’t listen to you. They want to see the numbers.”

Many citizens expressed that they feel Germantown is neglected as a whole by the city. When asked if she would vote “yes” on the ballot question regarding whether the city should borrow $1.11 million, voter Berona Wint outside of St. Francis of Assisi Church said, “They have to tell me what they’re going to be spending it on. If they can’t tell me, they’re not going to get my vote.”

Connelly said he also would be voting “no” because he hasn’t seen money spent being put to good use in his neighborhood in the past.

“I don’t see what effect it has because it still looks the same here every year,” Connelly said. “Until we can make sure we’re getting the goods and services in our community, I’m going to turn it down.”

Many voters who have come out said they are disappointed in the lack of participation from their fellow community members.

“Citizens are the problem. They always want, want, want without doing something,” said Neal Warren, a voter and volunteer at St. Francis of Assisi Church. “A good man once said, ‘Don’t ask what you can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,’ and we lost that.”

****

Hattie Cheek and Grace Dickinson are students at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.