Election Preview: The 198th Legislative District
Rosita Youngblood, Charisma Presley and Malik Boyd are running.
We're running previews of key primary races that affect Chestnut Hill in case you aren't sure who to vote for. Here's a look at the 198th Legislative District's Democratic primary. For the 200th Legislative District race, read the preview here.
Currently represented by: State Rep. Rosita Youngblood, who was first elected in 1994.
Who's running: Youngblood, Charisma Presley, Malik Boyd.
- Youngblood currently represents the district. She is now the chair of the House Gaming Oversight Committee and has served on a variety of other committees. She has also been a member of various neighborhood groups.
- Presley graduated from Villanova University and received her Master's in higher education administration there. She is now the assistant director at Villanova's Center for Multicultural Affairs. Presley grew up in Nicetown and still lives there (she used to be a committeewoman in the 59th Ward).
- Boyd is the president of Philadelphia Young Democrats and has done lots of community work in Germantown related to the Chelten Plaza development. He is a board member at Germantown High School and is on the Neighborhood Networks' citywide steering committee. Boyd ran against Youngblood in the 2010 primary as well.
Why they're running:
- Youngblood said she wants to finish some of the work she's started. One thing she's done, she said, is set up a computer system in her office that allows constituents to come in and apply for jobs online, and she wants that to remain intact. There are other programs she wants to continue, as well. "This gives me an opp to finish a lot of unfinished business," she said.
- Presley said she got her first real taste of politics when she worked with residents to fight Mayor Michael Nutter's plan to close swimming pools throughout the city in 2008. Now, she said, she's learned that it doesn't always take a large group to make things happen. "If we have a responsive representative, we can enact change," she said.
- Boyd also wants change. "We've had 18 years of stagnant. Stagnant legislation, stagnant focus," he said. "And this is our time to actually do something different." He said he's ready to go to Harrisburg, join the Democrats and fight for the values they believe in, especially since the House is now controlled by Republicans and since, as he put it, some Democrats are now playing for the other team.
What they hope to do:
- Youngblood wants to focus on redevelopment. She also feels as if she can secure more money for her district this year because of her connections in Harrisburg. For her, it's all about communication. "It's up to me to espouse the needs that we have in the city of Philadelphia," she said. "You've got to talk to people, point blank."
- Presley is pushing education as the biggest issue in this campaign. Violence, crime, jobs and even issues like fracking—which is important to people, she said, more in the northern part of the district—are near and dear to her heart. Change, she said, needs to happen in a very holistic way, and Presley, who believes in term limits, said she will go about making it term by term. After her first term, her second term would be about securing committee appointments, while her third would be about job creation and her fourth would be about sustaining progress.
- Boyd said he will focus on commercial corridor redevelopment. "There is a huge opportunity for us to empower entrepreneurs," he said. In doing so, he said, he hopes that empty storefronts in the area will decrease. He also wants to focus on education and cited Germantown High School's 42 percent graduation rate as a reason why. That enables crime to proliferate, he said, because people who aren't educated often don't have a job to go to. Boyd said he wants to create a bill that would give involved parents a tax credit.
Why they are different from the other candidates:
- Youngblood said she knows how government works. She has gone through the process of securing block grants and has the most experience of any candidate. "I understand how state government runs, as well as federal and local government," she said.
- Presley has knocked on about 9,000 doors since she started running. She is married to a teacher and is in education herself, so she knows these sorts of issues firsthand. She wants to make the word "politician" sound positive again. "I'm a coalition builder," Presley said. "I'm really into finding creative solutions. I believe in connecting with the people and finding a voice for everyone."
- Boyd said he is committed to his work. "I'm not going to stop until the job is done," he said. He also said his youth and vigor will help him out. "What I do have are semi fresh legs that are willing to go door by door," he said.
- "I do believe, with the relationships that I have built on both sides of the aisle, I feel confident I can secure more money for the city of Philadelphia."—Youngblood
- "At best, we can say the district has stayed the same. And the worst we can say is it's falling apart."—Presley
- "We have an opporutnity to cast a vote that will actually change this neighborhood for the better."—Boyd