But Cindy Bass has made it farther in Philadelphia politics than any other previous EMAN president. Bass, who led the organization's board several years ago, recently won the Democratic primary for the 8th District City Council seat and will likely be the neighborhood's next councilwoman, pending November's general election.
Bass attracted people to the meeting who live in West Mt. Airy but who wanted to come hear her speak.
She made a point of emphasizing her roots as she began her talk.
"It's like being with friends," Bass said.
Bass urged the 40-or-so people who came to the meeting to come together behind her, regardless of who they voted for in the May primary. People in Philadelphia, she said, have made a habit of beating up on one another, and she encouraged people to establish a more positive discourse throughout
She highlighted some of the positive changes the district has experienced since she moved to East Mt. Airy 18 years ago. The 7100 block of Germantown Avenue has been revitalized and other parts of the neighborhood have been improved.
Regardless, Bass said, she still has "a lot of work to do." She said she wants to make sure EMAN has the resources it needs to run effectively, and said she will make sure to open up an office in the district that members of the public can use for their own meetings.
That office, she said, will be open nights and weekends, and Bass said she plans on being there often.
She mentioned redistricting efforts that are currently underway in City Council. The 8th District has lost 13,000 people since the last census, while other areas east of Broad Street have seen an increase in population.
That could affect the district's boundaries. Derek Green, an EMAN board member who is also on Council Majority Leader Marian Tasco's staff, said City Council must pass legislation that has to do with redistricting by Sept. 23. There will likely be a public hearing on the matter between Sept. 8—Council's first day back after a summer recess—and then.
Bass said she wants to make sure gerrymandering doesn't happen in a way that would give the district an unusual, snake-like shape. That has happened in some areas of Philadelphia, like Oxford Circle, which is part of several council districts.
"I'm trying to make the case that the district should be more uniform," Bass said.
She doesn't have much control over the process, though, since she wouldn't become a City Council member until 2012. Incumbent Donna Reed Miller would have more say in how things are redistricted.
Green, however, said the entirety of Mt. Airy would likely remain a part of the 8th District no matter what happens.