Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Printed in Philadelphia Daily News on Tue, Feb. 27, 2007


THANKS TO columnist Phil Goldsmith for pointing out the absence of female candidates in the mayor's race. And why out of 15 at-large Council candidates is there only one woman running? Philadelphia NOW has spent some time trying to figure out why.

We've come to the conclusion that we will have more women running for office when we have real campaign finance reform - public financing of elections. Some of our Philadelphia NOW members have considered running, but backed out or decided not to enter the fray. Money was a major issue.

But money hasn't been the only obstacle. Historically, women have run for political office when their children are grown. If you begin a political career in your late 40s or early 50s (say running for state rep), your chances of becoming governor, U.S. senator or president are slim indeed.

The guys tend to get started in their 20s - state rep in their 20s, state senator in their early 30s, Congress in mid- to late-30s, senator or governor in their 40s. (Granted, given a famous name or tons of money, or a really compelling issue, a candidate can skip some steps.)

Younger women may not follow this model of family first, politics later. Also, there is some evidence that more and more young men are wiling to share child-care responsibilities, thus making a political career for women more achievable.

Another recurrent theme: the ugly nature of so many political campaigns. Women are often reluctant to subject themselves (and their children) to the kind of mudslinging all too common in political campaigns. And more opportunities are open now to ambitious young women and the hassles of politics may look a lot less attractive in comparison.

Why does it matter? There is considerable evidence (according to the National Women's Political Caucus and Center for Women in Politics) that women bring different issues to the table. We need a female perspectives at all levels of government, and campaign finance reform is the essential first step. Granted, the under-representation of women in politics is not just a matter of money-there are deeper issues of gender socialization at work. However, we are not going to close this gap without campaign finance reform.

Karen Bojar, President

National Organization for Women

Philadelphia Chapter

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Phila NOW endorsed candidates come out against Councilman Kenney's attempt to gut campaign finance reform law

Councilman Kenney has introduced abill to repeal the contribution limits in the city’s campaign finance reform law. NOW on the national, state and local level is on record in favor of campaign finance reform, including strict contribution limits. This is the only way we are going to get more women, especially working class women and women of color, elected to political office.

I am so proud of our Phila NOW endorsed candidates ( Maria Quinones Sanchez, Vern Anastasio, and Marc Stier) who have issued strong statements in opposition to Kenney’s bill. Please read their statements on campaign finance reform and call your council representatives to let them know you don’t want to repeal contributions limits. Contact info for council members can be accessed at

From Maria Quinones Sanchez :

The proposed legislation to repeal certain provisions of the campaign finance law smacks of political cynicism at it's worse. This proposal, if adopted, will continue the sad legacy of pay to play that has permeated city politics for so many years. The citizens of this city deserve better than politicians who vote one way, than change their minds when the laws that they studied, discussed and voted for, are no longer convenient for them or their allies.

I challenge my opponent, Dan Savage, to do the right thing and vote to maintain the current contribution limits. The supposed negative effects of benefiting millionaire candidates are minimal compared to the advantages of working to eliminate pay to play.

I've seen this game for many years and I'm convinced that campaign contribution limits are extremely important if our Democracy is going to work for the citizenry. The residents of the 7th District, where I live and am running for City Council, don’t have the ability to give thousands of dollars to candidates. They are regular working folk who want their voices and votes to be heard but are turned off by the effects of large contributions. The many people who have given my campaign $10, $50 and $100, should not be over-shadowed by suspiciously generous contributions from a select and privileged few. Most cities and states have reasonable campaign finance restrictions. Why can't Philadelphia?

This is one more reason why we should have public finance laws.

We are at a crossroads in the history of this great city. The talk is about change and getting the City on the right track; it’s about our future together. And the end of pay to play is a key component of reforming this city. Don't let City Council dash our hopes for a more efficient, transparent and honest government. I urge every City Councilperson to vote no on the repeal.

Maria Quinones Sanchez

From Vern Anastasio:

I am appalled that City Council would even consider repealing the campaign ethics law that limits contributions to candidate committees.

It may not be obvious why this is important.

But campaign finance laws aren't some abstract thing. They have REAL, concrete effects on how our city works and doesnt work. On the fact that we have no social services. Schools that dont work. Children dying in DHS custody. Parks that are never built. Abandoned buildings that are never torn down.

These things happen to us because our city is corrupt.

Here are just some of the hundreds of examples:

- Before these limits, for instance, the people that run Comcast could give an unlimited amount of money to members of City Council.

Shortly thereafter, council members turned down a rival cable company’s request to enter the Philadelphia market.
Council actually turned down the rival company’s check for $250,000,000 that could have gone to put 500 new police officers on our streets, extend the hours of our recreation centers and develop comprehensive urban plans for every neighborhood in the city.

- Before these limits, billboard companies and surface parking lot owners could dump thousands into the war chests of councilmembers. And then, perhaps by coincidence, those members of council would propose wrapping public buildings in giant billboards.

- Before these limits, those same council members abandoned a proposal for property tax reform that lifted the burden off of homeowners and placed it on those surface parking lot owners. Again, contributors came before citizens.

- Before these limits - do I even need to mention the unfortunate and shameful circumstances that unfolded in the 7th Council District?

My grandmother used to tell me lots of things. One of her words of caution was this: a leopard never changes his spots. The same can now be said for well-connected councilmembers who talk about reform but who ultimately owe their lives to the machine and the money that fuels it.

And as Philadelphia continues to be stuck in its Era of Corruption, many of us want to force the spring of honest change, advance independent leadership and finally realize reform.

And so, I respectfully ask the members of our City Council – many of whom I know and admire -- to help us end the Era of Corruption. Help us stop the influence of big money. Help us take some of the politics out of our government. Help us to believe that you put people before the party. Help us to reform this great and beautiful city.

There’s no such thing as being almost pregnant. You either are or you aren’t.

Either you’re for reforming this government or you’re not.

Vote to maintain these limits or we will elect others who will.

Vern Anastasio

From Marc Stier:

City Council at Large Candidate Marc Stier today denounced legislation, proposed by Jim Kenny and ten other Council Members, that would eliminate all contribution limits in the 2007 Mayoral election. The legislation is a response to Mayoral candidate Tom Knox's willingness to contribute up to $15 million of his own money to his campaign.

"Campaign contribution limits were a small step forward in our efforts to fix the broken politics of this city. Eliminating them is a major step backwards." said Stier. "Allowing unlimited campaign contributions raises the possibility that pay to play will dominate the next mayoral administration as it has done the last few." he added.

"The ability of a millionaire to outspend other candidates by an enormous amount does raise a serious question for our democracy. But we can solve that problem by moving forward toward better regulations on campaigns rather than by abandoning the regulations we have now."

Stier has called for public financing of political campaigns, although he acknowledges that this cannot be instituted this year. However he argues that, "We can limit the impact of personal wealth on the Mayoral campaign by reducing either the cost or the importance of television advertising on the election."

Stier has proposed a number of steps that can be implemented now. The first is to require television stations and cable companies to offer free or low cost political advertising to candidates. Stier argues that "The public airwaves and the cable companies are public trusts-and cash cows. They have both the responsibility and the financial capacity to provide very low cost political advertising."

Stier also has called for limiting the number of television advertisements that any television station or cable company could accept from one candidate. Or, alternatively, he suggests that the city could tax the money candidates spend on television advertisements beyond a certain threshold and redistribute that money to the other candidates.

Stier concludes that "We should not destroy campaign finance reforms that were meant to deal with one of the most obvious ways in which politics is broken in this city."

For more details on Stier's views on this issue go to

Philadelphia NOW Chapter Meeting Dates for 2007:
Feb. 12
Mar. 12
Apr. 9
May 7
Jun. 11

Meetings are held at 1606 Walnut Street, 3rd Floor 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.