The Reasons Behind Our Resign to Run Poll
Back in the day, YIP would take strong public stands on various issues in Philly that mattered to young adults. We’ve always believed that making Philly vibrant and youthful is good for the city as a whole. Over the past few years, though, YIP has been more focused on building the next generation of local leaders, especially in the nonprofit sector. Over the last year, more people have asked us to return to local policy and politics again (while maintaining our nonprofit work, too – you people are demanding). Well, we’re listening and launching a new effort to ensure that we can effectively listen to, and speak for, Philly’s young professionals.
We first dipped our toes into the ocean of advocacy when Councilman Oh’s office asked us to support the Councilman’s “Resign to Run” proposal. We decided to ask our members what they thought, and their tepid response kept us from taking a plunge. Philly’s political waters can be murky at the best of times, so, for transparency’s sake, we wanted to explain what we did and why.
First, what is Resign to Run? In short, under current city law, elected officials in Philadelphia must resign their current positions before running for another office. Elected officials in the rest of the state and most of the country don’t face this restriction. Supporters of the existing law argue that it forces elected officials to fulfill the responsibilities for which they were elected, without wasting time and money pursuing another job. Opponents believe that the law keeps career politicians in place, preventing a new generation from taking leadership and preventing elected officials from Philadelphia from taking prominent places in state and federal government.
On October 3rd, Councilman Oh introduced Bill #130701 (co-sponsored by Council Members Tasco, Quiñones Sánchez, Bass, Reynolds Brown, Squilla, O’Neill, Kenney and Henon) that would place a repeal of Resign to Run on the ballot for a voter referendum. Other groups and individuals who testified in support of repeal were the Committee of 70, David Thornburgh from the Fels School of Government, and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Did we have a strong organizational stance on the issue? No. Did we know how best to decide whether or not to take a position? Not really. So we reached out to our members, asking whether or not you cared and what you thought. Only 141 people responded to our survey. Although selection bias abounds here, 77% of respondents cared about the issue and 65% supported a change to Philly’s law.
Ultimately, we decided that this was not an issue we were prepared to touch. We did not have any formal decision making processes in place, the opinion from our members was unclear, and we were not sure if the issue was as directly related to young professionals as proponents argued.
This situation did, however, catalyze a complete overhaul of how we decide whether or not we take a stand on an issue, what position we take, and what action follows. Moving into 2014, we feel more prepared than ever to ensure that the voice of Philly’s young professionals is heard loud and clear. If you’re interested in getting more involved on issues like this, school funding, gay rights and more, you should join YIP’s Advocacy Committee.
Want to learn more about Resign to Run? Good for you. Check out some of the following resources: