Eighth District Councilperson Cindy Bass (left) said that the failure of her would-be opponent Tonya Bah (right) to file a financial form properly was more than a “hyper technicality.” Bah, who hoped to challenge Bass for the Democratic nomination in May has challenged the city’s decision to remove her from the ballot. (Photos by Sue Ann Rybak)

by Sue Ann Rybak

More than 100 people packed the former Alma Mater, 7165 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy, to hear candidates for City Council speak at a community meeting sponsored by the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch, on April 4.

Front and center on the night was the status of Tonya Bah, whose candidacy to be the Democratic Candidate for the 8th District Council seat is in jeopardy after she was struck from the ballot for not filing a required financial statement. Bah, the mother of autistic twins, said she is currently appealing the decision to knock her off the ballot for a “hyper-technicality.”

An attendee asked why she was being removed from the ballot.

“Was it from a lack of signatures?”

Bah replied, “No.”

“Thank you for asking that question because I’ve been dying to explain it publicly,” she said. “Over 3,100 people would like a choice in who represents them.”

Bah said it didn’t have anything to do with the information her campaign provided. She said they followed all printed and online directions necessary to file.

“We electronically submitted it on April 7, and then we hand-walked it in before the 11th and had it date stamped,” she said. “There was no malicious intent on our part. We weren’t trying to deceive anyone.”

She said they were not instructed when they filed that they also had “to take it down the hall and submit a copy to the department of records.”

“So people do not have a choice now until we get back on the ballot,” she said.

Bass followed Bah and opened by saying she wanted to set “the record straight.”

“The first thing I want to acknowledge is while we did remove Ms. Bah from the ballot, there is no such thing as a ‘hyper-technicality,’” she said. “The Commonwealth calls it a requirement.”

Bass, who has held the office since 2012, said close to 100 people have filed, for all kinds of offices, and the majority of them ran for office the first time.

“And they got it right,” she said. “This is not any sort of technicality. When we talk about transparency, your financial disclosure is the ultimate in transparency. That is what was not filed properly, and I think if you’re interested in transparency, it’s important information.”

Several other office seekers attended the meeting: City Councilperson Helen Gym (at-large Incumbent), Justin DiBerardinis (at-large candidate) and Sherrie Cohen (at-large candidate). Each took turns to introduce themselves and take questions.

West Mt. Airy resident Steve Hastie called the vibe in the room “democracy in action.”

He said he was “impressed to see what a big difference being the incumbent makes.”

“They have so much more to talk about,” he said. “Some of the candidates who are new are very limited in what they can talk about.”

Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at 215-248-8804 or sueann@chestnuthilllocal.com

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