How do political parties work in Philadelphia?
The structure of political parties in Philadelphia is complicated. The two major parties, Democratic and Republican, each have a City Committee, composed of the people who are elected into positions within the party. These people are not legislators, but instead influence how each party works within the city.
The City Committees divided Philadelphia into 66 Wards, and each Ward is further divided into Divisions. There is a lot of variability in the size and breakdown of each Ward; some Wards have only 10 Divisions while others have 55. To make it more complicated, the Wards, City Council Districts and State House Districts (see below) do not necessarily share boundaries. Every four years the voters of the Division elect two party members as Ward Committee People – essentially the ground troops for the Party. The committee people then elect the Ward Leader, who oversees Party activity in the entire Ward. The Ward Leaders of each party make up the Democratic and Republican City Committees.
Interestingly, people elected to the City or State legislature (City Council Members, State House Reps and Senators) can all also hold seats within the party as committee people or Ward leaders.