A progressive advocacy group with strong ties in Northwest Philadelphia Sunday announced it has changed it’s endorsement for the Eighth District City Council race because a former City Council staffer who went to prison for corruption surfaced in association with one of the campaigns.
In early April, Neighborhood Networks was ready to recommend Cindy Bass as it’s favored candidate but news stories tying Bass to former Eighth District City Council staffer Steven Vaughn caused the group to reconsider.
An endorsement committee had already interviewed the Eighth District candidates and decided on Bass as their recommendation when the news hit that Vaughn, a Bass campaign volunteer, allegedly tried to intimidate Eighth District opponent Robin Tasco to leave the race.
Neighborhood Networks asked Bass to explain herself.
“She came in and told us her position and after she left we discussed it and decided that we should withhold our endorsement of Cindy,” said David Schogel, who was in charge of the group’s work in the Eighth.
At that time Vaughn denied that there were threats involved, and Bass said she had no knowledge of the meeting between Tasco and Vaughn, but condemned anything that might have been construed as threatening.
Neighborhood Networks also halted a membership vote between four candidates in the Eighth: Bass, Greg Paulmier, Verna Tyner and Howard Treatman. This vote was also tied to the group’s recommendation.
The group was concerned that its members had made their selection for Bass without knowledge of the Vaughn connection.
“Some had voted with the information [about Vaughn] some had voted without it… that’s why we suspended it,” said Stan Shapiro, an officer for Neighborhood Networks.
The group polled its members on line a second time following the suspension and Greg Paulmier, who is a long time Neighborhood Networks member, won that vote but not by definitive numbers.
The group then held a runoff vote between the top two vote getters in the earlier poll, Paulmier and Bass. Paulmier won with a clear majority of over 56 percent.
David Schogel said Bass’ association with Vaughn is important to Neighborhood Networks’ members in the Northwest because it brings up too many memories of a troubled past in the Eighth.
“She hasn’t done anything about her association with Mr. Vaughn and that makes a lot of people very uncomfortable,” he said. “We don’t want to have anything to do with the previous administration.”
In response, Bass congratulated Paulmier on the endorsement and said she would keep her campaign focussed on the issues.