Young Candidate Spotlight: Alex Feldman
One in an occasional series highlighting young Philadelphians who are running for office. Young Involved Philadelphia does not endorse any candidate for any office, and this post should not be considered an endorsement of or opposition to any candidate. But we do encourage all young Philadelphians to get more involved civically and politically in their city. To that end, we will occasionally profile young candidates and ask them how and why they decided to get involved.
Name: Alex Feldman
Running for: Democratic Committee Person for the 30th Ward, 6th Division (Graduate Hospital).
Why Philly? I grew up outside of Philadelphia. I’ve always been a really passionate Philadelphian – I’ve always loved this city. I went to college in the area – I went to Penn – and then I left for a while. I went to London for grad school and to New York for work. I came back in 2009 for my current job, but also because I really wanted to be in Philadelphia.
I knew that cities like Philly are places that aren’t necessarily naturally attracting young, energetic people who want to change the urban environment, at least not then, and I wanted to be a part of the transformation of my hometown.
What do you do? I work for a firm called U3 Advisors. We do economic development consulting and real estate development consulting with universities and hospitals on urban revitalization around their neighborhoods and campuses. Our work is all over the country, but we’re based in Philadelphia. The principals of the firm were very involved with Penn in the revitalization of West Philadelphia.
I get to work in other cities – I’m in Detroit right now. It gives me an interesting perspective – Detroit changes the way I look at Philadelphia. In many ways, we’re really lucky, and we don’t look at ourselves as lucky sometimes.
Why did you decide to run? I wanted to get more involved. I’ve always been interested in Philadelphia politics. A friend who was interested in organizing a group of people that wanted to get involved at the most local, grassroots level, approached me. I thought this would be a really great opportunity to dip my toe into Philadelphia politics and understand how the system works.
I’m also running because I want to represent my neighborhood and my block. I think its important to have representation from people of my generation, people that are moving to the city and have a different perspective from those that have always lived in Philadelphia, who see it a certain way, and are maybe hesitant to try things that will change the city or the neighborhood. I’m running because I love the city, I want it to be better, I want it to grow, and because I want to support the local civic groups and organizations that make where I live such wonderful place, like Friends of Chester A. Arthur and SOSNA. Those are great organizations that I think could use more support from the city.
Any advice for other young people considering a run for office? I’m still learning myself. My advice would be to put yourself out there. One of the things I’ve learned is to be a good neighbor, and knock on the doors of neighbors I’ve never met before. Just the act of getting signatures was a really fantastic opportunity to meet my neighbors, learning about what their interests are, getting a sense of what they are looking for in terms of the neighborhood’s progression, and hopefully get their support. Even if I don’t win, I’m glad that I did that, because I feel more connected to my neighborhood through that process.
What kind of challenges have you faced? Getting 20 signatures wasn’t a huge challenge, but I had to show effort, meet my neighbors, and tell them why I was running. I haven’t seen any big obstacles yet, though.
What is it like being young person in Philly politics? That’s a very complicated question… There’s an understanding in Philadelphia that there is a system that exists and that you have to play within that system in order to make a positive change in the city. I don’t think that system is necessarily the best way for running this city, but I understand that it’s the reality.
Philadelphia politics to me, on the outside at least (I’m not an elected official yet), is a complicated system. You see elected officials walking down the sidewalk and can approach them and talk to them, which is kind of a wonderful thing about our city, that we have such an accessible political leadership. I see the mayor all around the city all the time, I run into council people on the street, so that’s a wonderful thing. But I also think the interests of all the citizens of Philadelphia, aren’t necessarily being heard. In order for Philadelphia to compete as a global city, we need to understand young, educated, talented college graduates are an important demographic, and we need more of them in our city, because they are an important part of our future.