U-Turn: Dear Philly non-voter, blame yourself for City Commissioner Anthony Clark

3 x 2 Anthony Clark
Reaction to Philadelphia City Commissioner Anthony Clark's work habits have ranged from "this is a public embarrassment" to "there must be a way to remove him."

Stop blaming Anthony Clark.

Yeah, I know. The “rarely seen” guy rarely votes, also. Heck, for someone who takes pride that he’s “the first African American to certify the election of the first African American President of the United States, Barack Obama, in Philadelphia,” it’s simultaneously comical and disturbing that he couldn’t even vote for Obama in 2012.

That’s because according to voting records discovered by the now defunct City Paper, Clark didn’t even vote in 2012.

But Clark’s work ethic (or lack thereof, according to some people interviewed by the Inquirer’s Claudia Vargas) and voting record is nothing new. In fact, it’s arguable that other than the mayoral race, Clark’s behavior was one of the most widely written and talked about stories in last year’s municipal election – you know, the election in which only 27% of the Democrats came out to vote in the highly contested commissioner’s primary race.

Six candidates were in that race, including Lisa Deeley, Carol Jenkins, Tracey Gordon, Omar Sabir, and Will Mega. Democratic voters had plenty of choices. And there was plenty of information about all the candidates, especially the beleaguered incumbent Clark. Yet, Clark not only prevailed, but he came in first with 75,769 votes, with the other primary winner, Deeley, capturing only 47,636 votes.

I’d call that a landslide victory.

And bear in mind: No one was holding a gun to any voter’s head. And there were no reported cases of voter fraud.

Like him or not, Anthony Clark won the election fair and square. And he went on to cruise in the general election.

He was elected by a mandate of the people.

Maybe I should make that “sheeple.”

But are the voters who pulled the lever for Clark really the ones to blame?

They are partly to blame and certainly have no right to complain about Clark’s conduct when information about his behavior was readily available.

But the real blame goes not only to the 73% of the registered Democratic voters that chose to sit out the primary, but also to the countless others (and I mean “countless” literally) that aren’t registered to vote at all, but could be. They are the ones that the pundits never talk about.

I’ll take a stab at their number. For the most recent year available (2014), the Census Bureau estimated the Philly population to be 1,560,297. They also pegged the number of Philadelphians under the age of 18 as 22.2%, which means that 77.8% of the population is of voting age. That total includes incarcerated felons and non-citizens, who are both unable to legally vote. We can't determine those numbers, but the base figure suggests that upwards 1.2 million Philadelphians could be eligible to vote. With just over 1 million registered voters, roughly 200,000 Philadelphians are giving a thumb’s down to voting.

Anthony Clark is not the problem. Those of you that didn’t vote are.

We will continue to have poor leaders until “those that can vote but choose not to” get serious and support sensible, fit candidates for election.

I hear there’s a presidential primary right around the corner.