As a teenager, Darin Bartholomew wasn’t interested in aiding state governors in election campaigns or sitting on the boards of prominent political organizations.
But today he does just that, and he works to bring millennial issues to the forefront of politics.
Bartholomew, who was Temple’s student body president in the 2013-14 academic year, is a board member of Philly Set Go, a nonprofit, bipartisan organization that tries to bridge the divide between millennial issues and local politicians. He is also the executive chairman of the Republican Party in the city’s 5th Ward, helping his party’s candidates in local elections.
The second-year IT auditing and cyber security master’s student didn’t enter politics until his second year as an undergraduate at Temple. Originally, computers brought Bartholomew to Philadelphia, where he received his bachelor’s in management information systems from Temple in 2014.
What started as a social activity for Bartholomew evolved into a passion for politics when a friend invited him to some on-campus political events.
“If I didn’t go to that first College Republicans meeting, I wouldn’t have gotten into the political side of things,” Bartholomew said. “If I had never taken my friend up on their offer to bring me into student government, I never would have been involved in government, as I am now.”
Within the city’s Republican party, Bartholomew is organizing a committee for the upcoming elections for the Philadelphia County Board of Elections in May.
Mike Cibik, a 1981 master’s of taxation law alumnus and vice chairman of the Republican Party of Philadelphia, said Bartholomew is invaluable to him.
“He is a person that just takes initiative on ideas that we have and follows through,” Cibik said. “In the nonprofit system, there’s volunteers, so some lack that. With Darin, I don’t see that problem. He gets things done.”
In the past, Bartholomew worked as the travel aide to Gov. Tom Corbett during his 2014 election campaign. While he served as student body president, he held a press conference with Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey about the importance of low interest rates on student loans.
Co-founder and Chairwoman of Philly Set Go Gabriela Guaracao met Bartholomew before the organization started in 2014, and she said that among the board members, he is the most involved and vocal in Philadelphia Republican politics.
“Darin’s role is a board member, but he also uniquely assists us, as being an unofficial ‘liaison’ in many ways to the city’s Republican Party, since he is so involved,” Guaracao said. “In terms of the board, he involves himself a lot in advocacy and marketing issues, because Darin is fairly savvy when it comes to social media, he has a lot of opinions on that.”
Philly Set Go works to help elect officials that will take millennial issues, like affordable higher education and income equality, into consideration.
The organization’s most recent successes came in 2016 with the election of two Democratic state representatives who the organization endorsed: Morgan Cephas and Jared Solomon. Bartholomew’s volunteer work includes engaging millennial voters on both sides of the aisle.
“It’s easy to sit back and complain about the problems,” Bartholomew said. “But it’s another thing to get involved and say, ‘I’m trying to help get this person elected because they’re going to stand up for us, and make our lives better.’”
“For me, being politically active is taking responsibility for the city I live in,” he said.
Henry Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.