I did not vote in Philadelphia's primary election this week. I did not register to vote, have any intention of voting, or take the time to learn about the candidates. I apologize for my apathy, but I can afford to be apathetic. It's the candidates running in the election who can't afford to be apathetic.
When I opened my front door Tuesday morning to the noise of a truck-mounted loudspeaker blaring, "Vote Vern Anastasio!" I was also greeted by six pamphlets, leaflets, and fliers for Council candidates Anastasio, Mark Squilla, and James Kenney, as well as a ballot backed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98: Squilla and judicial candidates Sean Kennedy, Martin Coleman, and Michael Fanning.
I name these men out of no previous bias; I don't know if they were the front-runners or the underdogs. But I do know that they completely covered my South Philly neighborhood in trash.
In some ways, this is like living on the sun and complaining about the heat; South Philadelphia is already covered in trash. Walking around the neighborhood, I see people young and old throwing chip bags, soda cans, glass bottles, and more over their shoulders without missing a beat. But if we can't expect our elected officials to help keep our streets clean, then how can we expect our neighbors to do the same?
Running with my dog on Tuesday, I stopped in front of a municipal building at 11th and Mifflin Streets with a few Squilla supporters outside. "Have you voted?" they asked. I told them that their candidate's campaign had covered my neighborhood in trash that morning. One of them offered to help me clean it up. I thanked him for the gesture, but that wasn't the point.
With six leaflets on each stoop, that's about 150 pieces of paper on my block alone - and on a windy day, no less. I'll let you do the rest of the math.
For all I know, these candidates have set aside money for a cleanup crew that will hit the streets tomorrow morning. But I won't hold my breath.
I can only hope that in future elections, the candidates will campaign with more consideration for the city they claim to want to represent. They could lead by example in helping to keep the streets of Philadelphia clean.