Young Candidate Spotlight: Tom Nardi
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: Tom Nardi
Running for: Democratic Committee Person in the 58th ward, 39th Division.
Why Philly? I was born and raised in Philadelphia. The grade school I went to is in my ward, a large portion of my family lives in my ward. It’s home for me. I’ve spent some time in other places – working on campaigns in South Dakota, Delaware, other parts of Pennsylvania. But, Philadelphia – Northeast Philly – it’s where I want to be. And I want to be involved in the community, so I’m running for Committee Person.
What do you do? Political organizer, political staffer by trade. [Currently, I’m] call time manager for my uncle, who doubles as my state senator, Mike Stack, who is running for Lieutenant Governor.
Why did you decide to run? My grandfather was ward leader in the 58th for almost 40 years. I grew up at his knee. My uncle is the ward leader now. We’ve been involved with the 58th ward going way back – politics is in the lifeblood of my mom’s side of the family. Staying involved in the community is important to me. So when, four years ago, the opportunity first came up to run for Democratic Committee Person in my neighborhood, I jumped on it. You get to go out every day, meet new folks, meet old folks who’ve been there a while, meet the people in your neighborhood. For me, its people I grew up with: “Hey, you were in scouts with my son” or “My daughter when to high school with your brother”.
Any advice for other young folks considering a run for office? If you’re interested in running, go out and do it. My grandfather always gave the advice “no one makes you the guy – you have to go out and be the guy.” No one really taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hey, I think you should do this.” Without you expressing the desire to do it. So if you have to the drive to run for something, whether it’s democratic committee person, state representative, city council – figure out what you need to win and then go do it, because the most important piece of politics is being there and doing it. So many folks, even in elected positions, are really absent in what they do. When people talk about young upstarts that came and took over places, it’s because they showed up and did it.
What challenges have you faced, if any? Fortunately for me – rather unfortunately for small-d democracy – I am running unopposed. There are only 2 people running in my division. Last time I ran, there were 3 people running and I was able to win.
What is it like to be a younger person in Philly politics? There is a weird dynamic in politics when it comes to generations. You get the old guard that loves to see young people involved. If you walk into a room and you’re 25 and no one is under the age of 50, they’ll love that you’re there, but you’ll still have to prove yourself.
When people complain about “government doesn’t hear our voices”… politicians respond to the people who show up. It’s no coincidence that politicians every time you hear a politician open his or her mouth, its about seniors – seniors turn out to vote. Young people don’t turn out to vote so much. So if we want change, we got to make it – we got to show up.