What is the first and best way to get involved in local politics in Philadelphia? Running for a committee person seat in your ward.
Ward committee people are the political block captains of the local Democratic and Republican parties. Committee people represent their immediate neighborhoods--think two or three square blocks--and are elected every four years. The next ward committee election is May 2018.
The first step in running for party office is learning a bit about your current committee people. To get a lay of the land, find your address on this map created by our GIS analyst friend, which shows divisions with two open seats (black), one open seat (gray), low-vote seats (lighter), and high-vote seats (darker).
Each division can (and should) have two committee people, so the votes received by both committee people are added together to give you a sense of whether there is a higher or lower barrier to entry. Seeing how many votes your committee people won in 2014 can help you determine how they got into office and will provide a general sense of the number of votes you'll need to win. For example, low vote totals could be indicative of a successful write-in campaign, whereas high vote totals suggest that your current committee person has built relationships with your neighbors.
Also, did you know that nearly everyone who works at your polling place is an elected official! The elections for those positions are this May. If you want to learn more about running for Election Board seats, sign up here and check out this great handbook from the Committee of Seventy.