On April 2nd, Young Involved Philadelphia hosted the largest event in its 15-year history and one of the largest events in the 2015 primary election season. Hosted by WHYY and in partnership with the Committee of Seventy, this event saw more than 400 young voters converge on WHYY’s studios to meet and engage with 23 candidates for Philadelphia City Council.
The impetus for this event was the growing power of City Council in relation to the mayor — City Council has control over development of neighborhoods; they decide if and where bike lanes can go; they have the power to raise or reduce parking ticket fees; and they even have say over trash collection. At the end of the day, Council decides how to spend $4.5 BILLION every year. And YIP and Seventy recognized that virtually no one, especially young voters, knows anything about who sits on council or who is running.
YIP and the Committee of Seventy thought it’d be cool to have a reverse career fair for the candidates, including both the incumbents and the people running to unseat them. The next thought: “wouldn’t it be cool if we gave all of the attendees a ‘cheat sheet’ about what to ask candidates?” So YIP curated questions from more than a dozen issue-specific organizations, including the Bicycle Coalition, Plan Philly, AL DIA, Philly Core Leaders, and the Urban Affairs Coalition.
The event — which was organized by an entirely volunteer team of more than 35 members of YIP — was a smashing success, providing a unique opportunity for young voters to engage directly with candidates, put a face to a name, and decide if that candidate was worthy of their vote.