Bill Rubin, the Democratic candidate in the 10th Councilmanic District, enjoys campaigning door-to-door in the various neighborhoods of the district.
“You get to talk to actual voters and find out what their issues are,” he said.
Rubin, 44, is challenging Councilman Brian O’Neill, a Republican seeking his ninth four-year term.
O’Neill has more money and name recognition, but there’s a reason Rubin was seeking out registered Democrats last week as the Northeast Times followed him on a canvass of the 66th Ward in Morrell Park.
“We’ve got twenty-thousand more Democrats than Republicans,” he said, citing voter-registration figures in the district. “I just need Democrats to vote Democrat. And I have a base of Republican support.”
Rubin, a married father of two from Bustleton, worked for the city commissioners’ office for almost 25 years. He was supervisor of elections and formerly served as vice chairman of the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement.
The challenger was joined on Oct. 18 by ward leader Shawn Dillon and committeemen Chris Guest, Ed Schonewolf and Bob Miller.
Though he had no primary opponent, the Democrat has been knocking on doors since February, usually with Guest by his side with a street list of so-called “super voters.”
“There hasn’t been any negative reaction,” he said.
Few people, according to Rubin, tell him they are fervent O’Neill supporters.
At a typical door, Rubin will hand the resident a piece of campaign literature that features him pictured with his family, former City Controller Jonathan Saidel, an elderly woman and a veteran.
The piece calls for ending the “abuse of DROP by our elected officials,” referring to the Deferred Retirement Option Plan.
In a “Dear Friend” letter, he vows not to vote for any Council member for president who has taken DROP money. Councilwoman Marian Tasco, who is enrolled in DROP, is expected to seek the Council presidency.
O’Neill has not yet ruled out supporting Tasco for the top spot.
Rubin mentions his two campaign offices to voters and asks them to place a sign on their lawn. About two-dozen people per night agree to take a sign. The campaign estimates it has about 2,600 signs on lawns, and all residents with a sign get a follow-up letter of thanks.
Before the campaign is over, Rubin will knock on every door with a registered Democrat living there. He’ll also stop by Republican doors that are open and chat with people waiting for a SEPTA bus or pulling in and out of their driveways.
Almost all residents are polite — even a woman who had cookie batter on both hands when the candidate knocked and a family that was eating dinner. A woman sweeping leaves was not happy about high taxes and a lack of snow removal.
A man living on Morrell Avenue had a simple question.
“Democrat or Republican?” he asked.
“I’m a Democrat,” Rubin replied.
“See you later,” the man said before closing his door.
That man does not fit into one of three categories Guest checks off after each conversation. Voters are listed as “undecided,” “lean” to Rubin or “strong” for Rubin.
The “strong” Rubin voters will be contacted by volunteers on Election Day, Nov. 8.
An East Keswick Road man fits into the “strong” category.
“Glad you’re a Democrat,” he tells the candidate.
The challenger points to the front of his literature, which reads, “Think it’s time for a change? Let’s end DROP abuse.”
“You know it, it’s time for a change,” a woman on Elliston Circle tells him.
After Rubin explains his support for a three-term limit for Council members, a man on Rayland Road said he supports a one-term limit.
Rubin said voters are most concerned with property taxes and a lack of police presence. Many have a general anti-City Council feeling.
“Far and away, the biggest issue is DROP. People are so outraged at the half-million-dollar DROP payments,” he said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org