The primary campaign for West Philly’s 188th House District between incumbent James Roebuck and newcomer Fatimah Muhammad has drawn attention around the city and even the state because of the influence of school voucher proponents – and their money – into the race.
West Philly residents will have a chance to hear the candidates tonight at the Kingsessing Rec Center (5100 Chester Ave. Enter on 50th Street) from 6-9 p.m. Roebuck and Muhammad have confirmed their attendance at tonight’s event.
Muhammad’s campaign has made a visible impact in West Philly, with signs and billboards featuring her portrait in a Photoshopped style that closely resembles posters featuring President Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign. Her campaign has also been linked to a series of postcards mailed to many West Philly residents that blame Roebuck, the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, for limiting school choice for students. One postcard even blames him for the cap at Penn Alexander School.
Many residents have spoken out against the postcards on several neighborhood listservs and message boards.One person even vowed to make a contribution to the Roebuck campaign for each postcard she received.
Roebuck is opposed to vouchers, which would provide tax dollars for students to attend private and parochial schools. The opponents of vouchers argue that they would undermine the funding and enrollment at public schools, while proponents, including Gov. Tom Corbett, say they would provide students with a better choice of schools.
Muhammad, a Penn alum who has been the associate director of Penn’s Greenfield Intercultural Center, will undoubtedly face questions this evening about her position on vouchers.