Occupation: Senior Policy Advisor on Urban and Domestic Policy to Congressman Chaka Fattah, Democratic Committee Person in the 22 Ward
Residence: Mt. Airy
Political Experience: Senior Policy Advisor on Urban and Domestic Policy to Congressman Chaka Fattah, Democratic Committee Person in the 22 Ward, member of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee.
Bio: Bass is a policy formulator and community activist, according to her website. Before joining Congressman Fattah’s staff, she was Special Assistant to then State Senator Allyson Schwartz, now a member of Congress. She lives in Mt. Airy with her husband and daughter.
Web site: http://cindybass.com/
What makes you a good fit for the 8th District Council job?
I was born and raised in North Philadelphia and now live in Mt. Airy with my husband, Scott, and my daughter, Carson, who is almost 2 years old. Throughout my public service, I have played an active role in improving the lives of those living in the 8th District. While working as the first employee of what would become Mt. Airy, USA, I developed a successful housing counseling program which helped first-time home buyers realize the American dream, right here in Northwest Philadelphia. As a community lender at Chestnut Hill National Bank, I helped local small businesses secure loans to open here and create jobs. Finally, as staff to Congressman Chaka Fattah, I have worked hard on constituent service issues and to procure federal funds for local projects like the Parking Foundation and the Cresheim Valley Road repair. I have been here helping the people of the 8th District for a long time, and now I want to represent them in City Hall.
Chestnut Hill has seen numerous zoning disputes in which the neighborhood’s economic interests have run counter to near neighbor interests. How much input should a community have into zoning decisions vs. near neighbors? What is the council person’s role in zoning disputes?
Throughout the City, we’ve seen an overall theme of politicians making unilateral zoning decisions. I will ensure that community input is the first stop in my decision making process. This accomplishes two things, (1) gives the community the chance to weigh in on whether or not the business is good for the district. (2) It allows for transparency in the decision-making process.
My role will be to act as a facilitator between all stakeholders in any zoning decisions as the community sees fit in each case.
How can the city balance the needs to encourage small businesses and keep residents’ taxes low and services running?
I will be a cheerleader for the district by making a concerted effort to recruit as many responsible and sustainable small businesses. Small businesses create local jobs which result in better quality of life, greater choice for consumers, and a broader tax base. We also need to ensure adequate funding for special service districts to provide ample aide to businesses and the general public. The bottom line is that we must change the City’s reputation of being hostile to business in order to attract family-sustaining jobs.
The city’s public schools seem to be in a near constant state of crisis. What steps do you think the city should take to improve city public schools?
Our children deserve better, so the first thing we must realize is that legislators are not educators. The main things we can do to improve our schools are legislate, advocate, and investigate. In the 8th District, I have 27 public schools, 7 charter schools, and 23 private or parochial schools. Schools like Jenks make Adequate Yearly Progress every year, while others have been in Corrective Action II (the most severe form of non-progress) for several years. We need to convene all stakeholders in education—teachers, administrators, parents, students, and members of the community—to identify best practices in the good schools and deploy them into schools that need to do better.
We also need to think about partnerships with local higher education institutions like LaSalle and Chestnut Hill, which are both in the 8th District, much like the University of Pennsylvania has partnered with the Department of Education in the Penn-Alexander Program. There are currently private school students in Philadelphia who tutor and mentor Philadelphia public school students; I will be a champion for more ideas like this.
Finally, we must ensure adequate funding for our schools. I plan to use my position on Council and my relationships at the Commonwealth level to lobby State Legislators in Harrisburg for the money our schools deserve.
Polls have shown that voters are fed up with politics and distrustful of government. What would you do as a councilperson or are you doing as a candidate to address the corrosion of the public’s faith in government?
Improvement in education, public safety, and economic opportunity will restore peoples’ faith in government. I am confident that once people realize that government can efficiently and fairly provide services and incentives, apathy and distrust will dissipate.
Finally, the DROP program has made a lot of headlines for what can best be described as abuse by city officials who retire for a day in order to collect large cash payments. What is your attitude about DROP? If you are elected will you support for City Council President anyone who has entered the DROP program?
I am opposed to the use of the DROP program by elected officials. It was intended to provide an incentive for longtime government employees to retire. Even with the incentive payments, the program was expected to save the city real dollars. I believe that we need to revamp this program to provide hard-working public servants (non-elected) with a supplement for retirement. Also, I have not and will not commit to voting for or against any candidate who may be running for council president.