Lawyer and Germantown resident Irv Ackelsberg won third place in a close race during the 2007 Democratic Primary for the Eighth District City Council seat. Below he explains his recent decision not to run again.
I have decided not to be a candidate this year for the 8th District City Council seat.
While I have many “private” reasons, my decision is also, in part, a political one. One of my main motivations in running four years ago was to help reverse decades of decay and demoralization in Germantown. 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 8th District seat.
Four years ago, when I first decided to run, the Councilwoman and Germantown Settlement together held a tight grip over our community. When I looked at the landscape of Germantown back then, it was clear to me that I needed to stand up and oppose that regime and to talk publicly about the damage it had caused and would continue to cause.
I am speaking about the unending stream of recovery programs and Dollar Stores taking root in our business district; the absence of revitalization activity like that occurring in other neighborhoods; the exclusive hold over all public dollars coming into the neighborhood by the insolvent and incompetent Settlement empire or other “friends” of the regime; and, most importantly, the active discouragement of any efforts to build a unifying and constructive civic spirit in Germantown.
I spoke openly of those issues in the campaign and many of you joined me in calling for change. Although I lost the election in a crowded field, I believe our campaign succeeded in energizing Germantown and the District.
Today, the political landscape of Germantown is very different. Settlement is being liquidated in bankruptcy proceedings, the Councilwoman has announced her retirement and, for the first time in recent memory, a Germantown-wide civic organization, Germantown Community Connection (GCC), has been born. A fresh wind of possibility and hope has begun to awaken spirits.
The formation of GCC is especially important. Through the leadership of President Betty Turner and the support of First Presbyterian Church, GCC has slowly and deliberately begun to create the kind of voice for our neighborhood that WMAN and EMAN have long been for Mt. Airy. This is an effort I am participating in and am committed to making successful.
These developments have erased the crisis feeling of four years ago as we begin a new municipal election cycle. Several smart and decent candidates have come forward for 8th District seat, a number of whom will be capable of doing a fine job for us in City Hall. I see little reason to add to those numbers and contribute to any unnecessary splintering of the votes of those who share a desire for a new direction.
In some ways, the potential of another run became a handicap for me during the last few years, as people misinterpreted my participation in the reconstruction of our neighborhood as fodder for the next campaign.
Now, with the door closed on a run for City Council, I believe I can be most useful helping to build GCC and making sure that whoever we elect is committed to that same effort. I, like many of you, look forward to seeing how those competing for our votes will complement and assist the change we are already creating.
For those friends and supporters who were a part of my campaign four years ago and who have been enthusiastically offering me help for another run, I thank you, and ask you to consider putting some of that energy and camaraderie we generated in 2007 into building a new Germantown. GCC meets the second and fourth Thursday of each month at First Presbyterian,at 7 pm. Come help us turn “reform” and “change” from campaign buzzwords, into concrete action.
Irv Ackelsberg Germantown