In a city where there was little competition in the 2011 mayoral race and one where many incumbents currently face no opposition, things are shaking things up in the 198th District House District.
There are two Democratic contenders for the seat currently held by state Rep. Rosita Youngblood. Youngblood, also a Democrat, is seeking re-election.
Both have strong Northwest Philadelphia area roots, are committed to bringing a new vision to the political landscape, and have been seen canvassing throughout the district that extends from Nicetown and Logan to the Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill borders.
Charisma Presley is a Nicetown native who started her campaign trail knocking on doors in the neighborhood where she grew up. When the Tribune caught up with her she was sharing her vision with those in the neighborhood surrounding Infusions, a coffee house located on the 7100 block of Germantown Ave.
The Villanova University administrator said she understands the needs of the Nicetown-Logan area as well as Northwest Philadelphia.
“I first realized that organizing was effective when I was involved in the effort to save the Picket pool,” said Presley, a young wife and mother. “Then when I was advocating for students at Villanova, it (evolved) into the creation of a retention program for students of color — I saw how public policy works. That’s when the seeds of representing the community I know well began.
“I really want to advocate for those who voices are not currently heard can transfer much of what I do in recruiting, retaining and graduating students of color at Villanova into advocating for the community,” she added. “I know what the problems in the wards. Nicetown and Logan have been neglected for too long and I want to rectify that disparity while working for the needs of the entire district.”
Yet Malik Boyd is quick to point out that his ties are strong to both the Northwest Philadelphia communities where he has resided his whole life and to organizations like the Young Democrats.
A graduate of Germantown High School, Boyd insisted that he has the skills to be a power player at the state capitol. He has lived on Allens Lane and Rittenhouse Street before moving to his current residence about five years ago on Chelten Avenue in the heart of the 198th District.
“I was president of the Philadelphia Youth Democrats and the Young Democrats of Southeastern PA, and I have a solid understanding of just what it takes to get things done on the state level,” Boyd said. “One of the first measures I would introduce is the Helping Hands bills which would be similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit. It would be a (financial) incentive for low-income wage parents who often have to work two jobs to be involved in the PTA.
“As I have been canvassing the community I hear people’s frustrations. I’ve seen these people while volunteering the community,” he added. “They don’t feel they have the resources that they need. I know that I have the energy and commitment to address the issues that people are facing during these tough times.”