In 2007 while I was trying to run for Mayor of Philadelphia, I took a chance of trying to become the nominee for the Green Party of Philadelphia. I had run into someone during my petition drive who turned me onto the group, and asked if I would speak to the group at the next meeting, which I gladly agreed to do. I went to the meeting, gave a speech, and it was pretty well received.
My speech, in general, was about how people who have been in politics for forever and a day tend to forget why they became public servants int he first place, and how over time they’ve been corrupted by the power and the need to secure their spot every chance they get. How, in the end, they care less about helping people and more about everything else.
After the speech, I met the two people the Green Party was already running, one of whom was City-Commissioner candidate Lewis Harris, Jr.
Lewis reminded me of someone I already knew; the type of person who had lived through more things than I could ever know, growing up in a time when segregation was legal and when being tough meant more than anything. He also reminded me of the type of person who was in politics for forever and a day. He put his arm around me, much like Milton Street did when I went to protest him, and said, “Here’s my card, man. Give me a call. We’ll talk, get you started, and one day we’ll get you into office, get you started on the path.”
I could tell immediately what he meant; Do what I want, or you won’t go anywhere. I declined.
Months passed. The other person they had considered to be their nominee started to fade away, and I came to monthly meetings from March until August. By the last one I went to, the kind and welcoming nature that Lewis and the other person had shown was gone. They didn’t see me as one of “them.” Not just a non-Green Party member, but not a “team player”. I didn’t want to play the game of cow-towing to people I didn’t feel I could trust. In turn, they used their influence in the party as board members to vote against naming me the nominee.
The Green Party lost all elections that year.
Fast-forward to 2011. A special election was held in the 185th District for a vacant seat. Up for election was the widow Maria Donatucci and… Lewis Harris, Jr for the Republican Party?
Yes, Lewis had popped-out again and was now a Republican. Not only that, but he wanted to be a State Representative! During the election, his website offered little if anything on a platform, and simply highlighted his accomplishments and accolades. The election fell during the massive snow storm, and in the end saw very, very low turn-out.
Lewis Harris, Jr, to me, doesn’t seem to be focused on people. Based on the few times I’ve met him, talked and dealt with him, and the fact that he has gone from Republican Coordinator for Sam Katz in North Philly, to Vice Chair of the Green Party, to running as a Republican State Rep to now running for Traffic Court, can you blame me?