'Wards 101' event aims to get young people into party politics

Ward leaders, beware. 

An event on how to run for ward committee drew 120 young people to Ladder 15 Wednesday evening, and many left jazzed up to take on the machine. 

City Commissioner Stephanie Singer ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )

Young Involved Philly hosted the "Wards 101" tutorial, which featured veteran politics reporter Dave Davies, City Commissioner Stephanie Singer and recently departed Nutter administration official Terry Gillen as speakers.

Singer and Gillen are both former leaders of "progressive" Center City wards known for bucking the party line. 

The trio shared stories of the petty politics and corruption the ward system has historically been known for and gave the audience tips on how to get involved. (Example: Get many more than the required 10 signatures needed to run for committee person because an incumbent-backed challenge of the Hancocks' authenticity could disqualify you.)

Singer said the millennial generation could be a political force if it organized. 

"You have the same power advantage as every single group," she said. "It's how you use it."

Ben Stango, an 8th Ward committeeman and Young Involved Philly officer, planned the event. In an interview, Stango said he's hopeful the city's millennials will establish a presence in city politics over the next five years.

"Now's the critical moment where we have to ... actually step up and turn into reality these things that we've been talking about," said Stango, 25, who works at the United Way.