He’s off to the races

Jordan Rushie

“All politics is local politics,” or so it has been said. Currently the most prominent political election Villanovans are concerned with is that between Senator John Kerry and incumbent president George W. Bush. While this race is very important, many Americans overlook the importance of local political elections, which in many cases affect the average person much more than the presidential election. Local races are often times more compelling and relevant than the national elections.

One race I have had the pleasure of becoming familiar with is that of the Democratic primary elections for 182nd District in Philadelphia for Pennsylvania State Representative. Since Philadelphia is so heavily Democratic, the winner of the primary election almost always wins in November. In these particular primaries, incumbent Representative Babette Josephs, a 20-year veteran Pennsylvania state representative and Democratic chair for the State Government Committee, is being challenged by her former roommate and close friend, Terry Gillens, and rising star Andrew Hohns, a 25-year-old Philadelphia native who was recently named one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 under 40.” Though there are three candidates running in this election, Babette Josephs and Andrew Hohns are leading the race. Hohns ran against Representative Josephs and lost by a narrow margin in 2002 at age 23.

Though the job for state representative only pays $64,000 a year, it has become quite prominent in the public eye, with Hohns raising more than $200,000 – the most ever recorded in a race for a Pennsylvania State Representative election. The race has the Democratic Party split on all sides – P ennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Philadelphia Mayor John Street and the National Organization of Women have all endorsed Representative Josephs, while City Controller John Saidel, Pennsylvanians for Effective Government, the Fraternal Order of Police, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the Cement Masons are supporting challenger Andrew Hohns.

I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting with both Babette Josephs and Andrew Hohns, both of whom were very accessible and eager to talk about their campaign platforms. At a fund raiser for Josephs, which was attended by both Mayor Street and Governor Rendell. Josephs explained that she has been a long time opponent of the Edison School System, which was an attempt to turn Philadelphia schools over to private enterprise. Josephs has lobbied for higher prices on cigarettes and helped remove cigarette vending machines from where youths could access them, helped the mass transit system receive more than $50 million in funding and has fought for stronger First Amendment Rights and AIDS prevention and education. She feels that her experience in working with the Street and Rendell administrations, willingness to do what she believes is right regardless of popularity, and long list of accomplishments will give her the edge in keeping her seat as state representative. “She fights for what’s right in Philadelphia,” Villanova Law alumni Governor Ed Rendell said. “She has championed for the 8th and 5th wards, she has been a great help the Avenue of the Arts. Why would we want to replace her?”

Andrew Hohns is relying on his energy, youth, dedication, long list of accomplishments and ability to raise funds to challenge the 20-year incumbent. Hohns attended Masterman High School and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Hohns list of accomplishments includes founding a 14,000 Member Civic Organization called “Young Involved Philadelphia,” which has garnished praise from Mayor John Street, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News. Hohns is a co-founder of the investment bank, Cohen Brothers and Co., a volunteer teacher and a Democratic committeeman in the 8th Ward. In addition, he founded “Medicare and You,” an organization which informs seniors about Medicare. He is an advocate of gay rights, is pro-choice and supports increasing commerce in the city of Philadelphia. In addition, Hohns has raised more than $200,000, more than any other candidate for state representative. John Saidel, city controller says of Hohns, “Andrew has already accomplished more than all of those politicians in Harrisburg.”

Local politics are politics anyone can get involved with. Anyone interested in seeing how the political process works should contact Villanova College Democrats (VCD) by e-mail at [email protected]. VCD is a very active organization which offers many opportunities in politics. In addition, Josephs and Hohns are offering opportunities for college students to volunteers or intern with their campaigns. Josephs can be reached at [email protected] or you can get involved with Andrew Hohns by e-mailing [email protected]. This is not the only election you can get involved with, but it is a fascinating and heated one. It is a great way of seeing the political process up close, exercising your right to choose as an American, meeting prominent politicians and getting Villanova’s name out there in Philadelphia.

We fought hard for the right to vote, we fight hard to preserve this right, so get out and exercise it in every way possible. Democratic elections are what makes America such a beautiful and free country and should not be taken for granted.