Tyner brings big time style politics to 8th District race

Today, Verna Tyner officially announced her campaign for the Eighth District City Council seat, which will be up for grabs in the fall, with a whirlwind tour of the Northwest Philadelphia district.

In Germantown, she and a small entourage stood in front of the chained doors of the abandoned Women’s Y building to highlight some of the things city government and specifically the Eighth District has done poorly in the past.

“Under my leadership this would never happen,” she said. “This is embarrassing.”

She called the 2006 sale of the YWCA building (5820 Germantown Avenue) an “inside deal” that benefitted the now defunct community development agency, Germantown Settlement. The sale used $1.3 million in city funds. Settlement never developed the building or paid back the loan. Now, after a fire last year, the building is little more than a shell.

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Among Tyner’s supporters is John O’Connell, who was the private real estate agent that had the listing to sell the YWCA after its bankruptcy. His recollection of the deal involved heavy string pulling from Donna Reed Miller, the current Eighth District Councilwoman, and from within then Mayor John Street’s office to secure the city money. 

O’Connell, who is also the Democratic leader for Mt. Airy’s 9th ward, called the building an example of what not to do in city government, because of Settlement’s gross mismanagement. But he stressed today’s tour would hit some more positive examples as well.

For that reason Tyner started off the announcement crawl at John Jenks school in Chestnut Hill because education, she said, would be her top priority as a councilwoman. Other campaign priorities include economic development, senior care, jobs, and crime, she said.

If her big campaign-style whistle stop tour indicates a certain political sophistication, it’s because Tyner, a Tioga resident, has done this kind of thing before. She is a former staffer for Councilman-at-large Bill Greenlee.

O’Connell says many in his ward already support Tyner – including him, but that the official decision won’t come until all the candidates have had a chance to present their cases.

Tyner hopes that starting off the campaign with a tour like this, and with visible support from likes of O’Connell, and Connie Winters of Germantown, will tell voters she means to take a hands-on approach to matters throughout the district, and not focus on just one section.

“Verna Tyner will not just be a City Hall Councilperson,” she said.

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