Weary of the typical slate of political establishment candidates, Meighan Dorr, a 25 year-old who has never held elected office, is running for mayor in an independent write-in campaign.
“The city is in a state of crisis and we need a humanitarian instead of a politician,” said Dorr, a former non-teaching assistant for the School District of Philadelphia. “People are too satisfied with nothing in this city. We’re satisfied with homeless people. We’re satisfied with the lack of housing. We’re satisfied without adequate education funding.”
She faces long odds.
The incumbent, Mayor Michael Nutter, is expected to win overwhelmingly. In addition, Dorr faces two other candidates who have had far more visibility than she has. Karen Brown, running as the Republican opponent to Nutter, has been widely seen and scrutinized. A third candidate, Wali Diop Rahman, has been very visible for months with his independent campaign.
Dorr has pegged her hopes on widespread voter discontent.
“I’m still hoping to win because the Democrats have been running this city for 45 years and they have us living in a city that is practically abandoned,” she said. “People are tired of Democrats and Republicans. People are kind of fed up.”
She decided to run in 2009 after being denied a slot on the city’s Youth Campaign. Initially, she wanted to run as a Democrat in the spring primary. She was kept off the ballot because her petitions were improperly notarized, she said. She switched, becoming an independent and gathered more signatures — 1,650 to be exact — but fell short of the 1,850 needed to garner a place on the ballot.
Undeterred, she set her sights on the general election running as a write-in.
“My experiences, gathering all those signatures, taught me that people are concerned,” she said.
Dorr has ambitious plans to stimulate job growth, tackle illiteracy, provide adequate housing, and turn vacant and abandoned properties into homes and businesses.
Among her ideas, loosening regulations on taxi licensing in an effort to create jobs, giving businesses tax breaks for sponsoring literacy programs for adults and turning vacant and abandoned lots over to non-profits who can put them to productive use.
She’s been hard at work the last few weeks shaking hands and getting the word out.
“I want to prepare a city for [the youth] that they can live in and flourish in,” she said. “We have a lot of resources to turn this city into a wealthy city and all the mayors that we’ve had have never had a plan of action.”
Dorr is a pharmacy technician and full-time student at Community College of Philadelphia, where she majors in cultural science and technology. She is a recipient of the Frank Sullivan Humanitarian Award.