Sometimes, in politics, being at large is the best way to get elected. That’s Marc Stier’s plan, anyway. Stier, a former intellectual heritage professor in the College of Liberal Arts, is seeking the Democratic nomination for city councilman-at-large in the May 15 primary.
The Philadelphia City Council consists of 17 seats, 10 from districts around the city and seven others who are elected “at large” to represent the entire city of Philadelphia. Stier said he chose to run for councilman-at-large in part because his residence in Mt. Airy falls on the border between Districts 4 and 8. He also said his campaign platforms have a broader, citywide appeal.
“There is an opportunity to gather the progressives around the city for their votes. I can win this race if I can bring progressives, progressive unions and various minorities together,” Stier said.
In an effort to reach out to progressives,
Stier’s campaign Web site includes a blog where he regularly posts his thoughts and essays about Philadelphia politics and his campaign. A longtime blogger, Stier transferred his personal blog to his campaign site in hopes of attracting more readers.
“In politics, you first go for the activists who help you spread your message. Blogs help to do that,” Stier said.
Kevin Arceneaux, assistant professor in the political science department, said campaign
Web sites have been utilized in the past, though for different goals.
“Campaigns have definitely used Web sites as a fundraising tool in the past, basically building a Web site that attracts faithful voters for donations. “The Web will continue to be used [in] that way in the future,” Arceneaux said.
Stier also keeps in touch with voters by sending them e-mails and posting messages on the comment page of his Web site. He said he plans to send almost 40,000 recipients e-mails, encouraging them to visit his site and read his blog.
This recent use of campaign sites indicates
a new direction many candidates are pursuing with their online content, Arceneaux said.
“I think that campaigns are going to have to start making Web content more entertaining. Stier’s site shows where the future is headed in making sites more interactive and more spontaneous,” Arceneaux said.
Although Stier is not teaching this semester in order to focus on his campaign, he said campaigning has become more than a full-time job.
“I shouldn’t have even taught last semester. I felt it was unfair to my students. The campaign practically started in October and I was much busier than I anticipated,” Stier said.
Although it is only primary election season, the Democratic Party’s stronghold in Philadelphia makes this election almost as important as the general election in the fall. Stier said this is especially true for at-large council seats.
“In the Democratic Primary, the top five vote recipients get on the ballot for the general election,” Stier said. “Because of the large Democratic majority in Philadelphia, the primary is a huge deal. If I win the primary, I’m in.”
If elected, Stier said he hopes to work for change with reformers outside city politics and administration.
“Progressives are already building citywide
organizations, but it’s hard to get real answers unless you have someone on the inside,” Stier said. “We need an insider to know about things like upcoming legislation,” he continued.
“We also need to combine that with people on the outside to put pressure on council,” Stier said.Stier added that, if elected, he wants to tackle government corruption and work on modernizing the services provided by the city.
“Politicians are elected by cutting deals with individuals and groups and not by presenting innovative ideas for the city,” Stier said. He said he plans to bring innovative ideas to a city that, he believes, is “15 years behind [other] modern cities in crime, transit,
education and affordable housing because of the [current] political system.”
Alex Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.