Earlier this week, Liberty City put out a statement that followed what this column stated a couple of months ago and made very clear: the Democratic City Committee must endorse a member of the LGBT community as an endorsed candidate in the May Primary. Liberty City took it a little further and demanded that party support come a little sooner, by the party picking an LGBT community member to replace one of the two open at-large City Council seats that are currently available.
The problem with that is it comes a little late, since there seems to already be a consensus between the ward leaders (who actually make that decision on who should get those seats) on who the two replacements should be. What Liberty City could have done is to state clearly that if another seat becomes available, as should happen since it is expected that two other Council members may vacate their seats shortly. One of those is Councilmember Helen Gym. As a champion of the LGBT community and a progressive, Gym’s seat, should she leave, is the one that should go to a representative of our community. Obviously that would only happen if she does indeed resign, as she has been telling friends she intends to do, in order to run for mayor.
If Gym resigns, City Council President Daryl Clarke would call a special election to replace her. Then the ward leaders would once again have the opportunity to nominate a candidate to fill that seat. This is an inside game, and our voices need to be heard at this time, so Liberty City’s statement is very welcomed since they are Philadelphia’s LGBT Democratic Club.
Other community leaders should follow suit, because that is what leadership is. Leadership is about setting a future path of progress and knowing the system and working to create that change. Liberty City showed that and should be an example to others. Leadership also means respect for those you have worked with. In that regard this community has given overwhelming support to the Democratic City Committee for decades. Our respect also means that we expect respect in return.
As I stated in my earlier column, which started this conversation, while we are proud to be one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the nation, we also are one of the few big cities whose LGBT community is not represented on our City Council. We are a powerful force, since we come out and vote in greater percentages than other constituencies. That percentage does decide the fate of the five candidates who will actually win that May Primary.
But if another seat becomes available sooner, it would be a sign of great respect for this community for the President of City Council and the Democratic City Committee to honor our continued support and finally give us our representation in City Council and show Pride in our city.