Seth Anderson-Oberman, a challenger to incumbent 8th District Councilperson Cindy Bass, formally announced his campaign in Mt. Airy.
Seth Anderson-Oberman, who has the potential to become the first serious primary challenger to incumbent 8th District Councilperson Cindy Bass, formally announced his campaign in Mt. Airy on Saturday to a room filled with supporters and volunteers, riffing on what he feels are residents’ concerns about the changing development landscape in 8th district neighborhoods like Germantown and Nicetown.
“Fifteen years ago my wife and I moved back to Germantown to raise our two children,” he said. “We love our neighborhood, but the community that we know and love may not exist in five years.”
Anderson-Oberman cited the lack of progress on Germantown’s YWCA development, and the opening of a “toxic” SEPTA-owned natural gas plant that opened in Nicetown as two examples of development projects in the 8th district gone wrong. Within a three block radius of his house, Anderson-Oberman added, “four big, ugly apartment buildings are going up with no affordable units, no onsite parking.”
The neighborhood’s changing dynamics, Anderson-Oberman argued, come as a result from neighbors being “shut out” from meaningful discussion around planning and development.
“Two bedroom units are renting for $2,500 in a neighborhood where the median family income is $36,000 for a family of four,” he said. “We know that if we don't act now, our children won't be able to afford to live in the neighborhood that they grew up [in].”
To that end, Anderson-Oberman pledged not to take money from corporations or “big developers.”
“We're going up against incredibly powerful and wealthy interests,” Anderson-Oberman continued, “who have a real stake in the kinds of development that threaten the future of our communities.”
Anderson-Oberman also played up his experience as a union organizer for Service Employees International Union. Unions are “the largest, most effective anti-poverty programs we have,” he said. “For the last 24 years, I've been a union organizer helping workers fight for better wages, healthcare, paid time off, dignity and respect on the job.”
Anderson-Oberman also voice his support for “fully funded and safe schools,” “a public bank that frees our city from the vice grip of Wall Street lenders,” and the need to transition the city from its dependence on fossil fuels to a greener future.
“We need this for our children, our neighbors and for this city,” he said.
Anderson-Oberman, who worked on State Rep. Chris Rabb’s campaigns, was first thrust into the 8th district’s spotlight when he earned Rabb’s endorsement last month.
Rabb described Anderson-Oberman as an “integral part” of his campaign teams over the years, and a “hard-working public servant.”
If elected, Anderson-Oberman would join a growing number of elected officials throughout the city who have successfully unseated incumbent politicians using grassroots campaigning techniques. It’s a list that includes city councilmember Kendra Brooks, and state House members Rick Krajewski, Elizabeth Fiedler, Nikil Saval and Rabb himself.
At the moment, it’s unclear whether any other challengers will enter the race. Ballots are typically finalized in March, barring any legal challenges that can extend the timeline.