Reporter Ben Waxman apparently contemplating job with Council candidate Jeff Hornstein

WHYY's "It's Our Money" reporter Ben Waxman (who works, via a William Penn Foundation grant, in partnership with the Daily News) met on Sunday with City Council candidate Jeff Hornstein to discuss, among other things, the possibility of his working for Hornstein's campaign, according to a source closely watching that race.

(Hornstein is running to represent the city's 1st Council District — South Philly east of Broad and parts of the near-northeast riverfront and Kensington.)

[Those bored: See Why This is Interesting below.]

The chat reportedly involved decent whiskey, hummus, and a wide-ranging discussion about everything from municipal finance to development policy — and whether Waxman would be interested in leaving journalism (for now, at least) to work for Hornstein's campaign — just three weeks out from the city's primary election.

Waxman, CP is told, neither accepted a job, nor was offered (or asked for) a job in city government should Hornstein win.    

Hornstein, a longtime union activist with SEIU and an underdog candidate in the race, faces a tough prospect of election against candidates Vern Anastasio, Joe Grace and Mark Squilla . But the 1st District, which contains neighborhoods like Queens Village and Philly's Gayborhood, is changing rapidly, and Hornstein, who lives in Queens Village, hopes to appeal to a diverse progressive electorate.

Contacted early Monday morning, Waxman told CP that "[Hornstein] was extremely gracious when I barged in on him and his wife on Easter Sunday," and that "we did sit and talk about his campaign and politics and the future of the city."

"I love the Daily News, and the people at the Daily News" he added, "but it's hard not to think about the possibility and excitement of somebody like Jeff being in office."

Hornstein told CP on Monday that he would "be glad to have [Waxman] on the team," but objects to being characterized as an "underdog" candidate, noting his several union endorsements (including SEIU, AFCSME, Transport Workers Union of America, the Laborers District Council of Philadelphia among others). "We have a preponderance of institutional support," he said.   

Waxman has hacked out an interesting path for himself in Philly. In 2003, the City Paper wrote about Waxman, then a precocious high school activist already steeped in Philly politics. [The Rebel, May 29, 2003]. He now writes for "It's Our Money," a blog (and podcast) on city finance for WHYY and the Daily News, and contributes occasional commentaries for that paper as well.

Why this is interesting outside of a few tiny, tiny circles:

— Because full-time journalists don't often give up good jobs to work for underdog poitical campaigns — especially these days;

— Because this year's election is, as we have tweeted, super-fascinating and potentially pivotal in terms of what kind of city this will be for years to come

— And because Waxman (a personal acquaintance of this writer) is a smart guy, and appears to see in this election something important enough to venture out onto less-than-ice-fisherman-worthy ice for.

City Paper agrees on that point: if you haven't started following this election, we think you should — not just because the whole, like, future of the city is wrapped up in it but because it's interesting and, as you can see, not without good gossip.

Follow ElectionEar for more, more, more.

Continue Reading