Donna Reed Miller

by Pete Mazzaccaro

After 14 years in office, 8th District Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller announced today that she will not seek re-election in 2011.

“It is time to give another person the opportunity to represent this wonderful district,” Miller said in a release issued by her office this morning. “I never believed this position to be a lifetime job, and though I know I have political and physical ability to serve, it is the right time for me to move into another type of public service.”

Miller also announced that she would keep her seat as the 59th Ward Democratic Leader. She has not endorsed a successor but said she would support a candidate in the Democratic primary in May.

Miller spent her entire life in Germantown and that neighborhood routinely supplied her with the votes to win crowded primary elections in the district. But Miller never enjoyed the same amount of support in Chestnut Hill. Chestnut Hill’s 9th Ward Democratic Committee routinely endorsed her opponents in primary battles throughout her tenure.

“I think that we in the ward felt disconnected to her politically,” said John O’Connell, the ward’s Democratic Committee leader. “I like her. She is a nice woman. But, I always had the feeling that she felt Chestnut Hill was O.K., that we were fine and didn’t need help the way parts of North Philadelphia Germantown and West Oak Lane did [all are part of her district].”

Although she might not have been popular in Chestnut Hill, she was not missing in action and was involved in Chestnut Hill zoning matters and attended community functions. She or someone from her staff would attend meetings in Chestnut Hill. She was particularly involved in the years-long process to replace the Germantown Avenue Bridge over the Wissahickon near Chestnut Hill College.

The field to replace her will probably be crowded. Former candidates Greg Paulmier and Cindy Bass have been rumored to be interested in another run. O’Connell recently took part in a fundraiser for Nicetown-Tioga resident Verna Tyner, former chief of staff for the late councilman David Cohen and until recently chief of staff of Councilman Bill Greenlee.

“I feel she would repreesent the entire district very well,” O’Connell said.

Looking back on her service, Miller was recalled her beginnings working for David P. Richardson, a well-known and powerful state representative from Germantown.

“When I became active in community issues in my early twenties and later began working alongside leaders like the late State Representative David P. Richardson Jr., I never envisioned being in public office,” Miller said in her statement. “All I wanted to do was to serve and help the community. That is all any of us wanted when we started in this many years ago. I tried to live up to the expectations that Dave and other trailblazers had for us.  Though we have made great progress, Dave and others still would not be satisfied. I can only hope my successor will learn the lessons of the past as they chart our course in the future.”

What do you think Donna Reed Miller’s departure means for Chestnut Hill and/or the 8th District? Add your comment below.