Too many of our residents live in poverty. We’ve struggled to end the gun violence epidemic, make schools safe for students and keep Philadelphians housed. Our government is too often failing to provide basic city services on time. And the playing field remains uneven across socioeconomic and racial lines.
I have spent my entire career building coalitions, creating solutions, and fighting for justice and equity for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents — and on Council, I will:
- Prioritize community solutions to gun violence by utilizing proven methods from other jurisdictions that focus on targeted positive interventions; scaling up community policing and de-escalation training; encouraging positive police-community relations
- Increase investments in neighborhoods, including public school facilities, recreation centers, libraries, and community spaces; with a particular focus on historically dis-or underinvested neighborhoods
- Improve affordable housing opportunities and sustainably refurbish existing stock and use union labor to accomplish this.
I also pledge that my office will provide top-notch constituent services and be an open door for all Philadelphians.
Every child in Philadelphia – regardless of their background, race, or zip code – should have access to a great education in a safe facility. There’s no question that the current state of Philadelphia Public Schools is largely due to the deliberate underfunding and disinvestment by the state legislature. I have been following and supporting the Fair Funding lawsuit, and I am so hopeful that the ruling will lead to more equitable funding. But there is also a crisis of faith in the District leadership stretching across the last decade, and families have felt discounted and left in the dark for too long. It’s vital that school communities feel seen, and are treated like partners in shaping the future of the District.
One of my top priorities once elected would be to focus on remediating our crumbling and often dangerous school facilities. City Hall needs to work with the District and focus on funding our facilities so that our students, teachers and faculty are safe and can focus on educating and learning. I am particularly opposed to using poor school facilities as an excuse for school closures, and in support of prioritizing modern facilities for every school. This facilities master plan must be transparent and equitable.
I am the parent of a public school student. Conditions in schools are hazardous and not conducive to learning or teaching. As a member of Council, I would prioritize increasing education funding and would encourage the Mayor to continue giving grants directly from the general fund. Philadelphia’s School Board remains one of the only in the state without the capacity to raise tax revenue, making this a critical responsibility for the City. This funding could be directed toward fixing our crumbling and dangerous school infrastructure, as well as improving our resources – such as new textbooks – to improve the quality of our education. Before the most recent reforms to Philadelphia’s tax abatement, research from the think tank Good Jobs First showed our city sacrificed tens of millions in education funding each year — more than any other large city in the country. We should continue to explore further reforms to the abatement to ensure Philly’s school children don’t get short changed.
With Philadelphia’s increase in violent crime, we need holistic solutions.
Genuine community safety means providing a clean and safe environment along with an infrastructure investment of city and social services that allows folks to thrive while also decreasing the number of shootings. A recent study at the University of Pennsylvania, one of many over the past decade, found that repairing homes, including replacing doors and windows, trash clean up and weeding, decreased gun violence in the surrounding area at an average repair cost of $5300 per home. In City Council I will prioritize delivering these repairs to our city’s zip codes experiencing the highest rates of gun violence, along with greening neighborhoods, which has shown a similar reduction in violence.
Additionally, I will pursue scaling up the number of “violence interrupters” in our city to help mediate potentially violent conflicts. “Violence Interrupters” are community members who receive training in conflict mediation and are part of the “Cure Violence” model which has found success in reducing shootings in similar cities. The “Cure Violence” model is evidence-based and relies on interrupting conflict and connecting high-risk folks to social services to avoid future conflict. Implementing this model in Philadelphia will ensure that our efforts to reduce violence are community-led while also addressing its root causes.
Philadelphia needs greater investments and emphasis on retraining police officers, increasing non-police diversions, such as utilizing mental health professionals, and expanding programs that link youth to social services. The city needs to implement true community policing, with an emphasis on increasing police-community relations. At the PCHR, I worked closely with the former Police Advisory Commission (PAC), and served on the Police Community Oversight Board (PCOB) that recommended changes and held the police department accountable to reforms. This work helped to transform the PAC into the new independent Citizens Police Oversight Commission (CPOC), which has significantly more investigative and enforcement authority, including the ability to initiate complaints against the PPD.
Improving City Services
Creating trust in government starts with sending new leaders to Council and the Mayor’s office who will make basic services a priority to improve things like garbage collection, street cleaning, and library services. I would be a champion for providing full funding to these services, and as Councilmember I would also have an open door communication policy for constituents across the city to identify problem areas. One idea that resonates with me is working with the Controller’s Office to create an Equity Index to help identify areas of the City that do not receive adequate services. Right now, inconsistent provision of services disproportionately impacts Black and brown neighborhoods. By investing in existing municipal services in these neighborhoods, City Council can finally start to root out inequity.
Philadelphia is in a staffing crisis, we have too many vacancies in city services. Without proper staffing, we simply cannot provide the adequate and timely services that our city deserves. To combat this, our city needs a permanent HR Director who would oversee hiring, training, and management of the city workforce. We must modernize our recruitment and retention efforts including streamlining our hiring and promotion practices, which are currently cumbersome and inflexible. Philadelphia is a world class city and we already have extremely talented workers, we must build on this and create an environment in City government that attracts this talent. I support removing barriers to employment and promotion, such as eliminating the requirement of a 4-year college degree. My goal is to open the libraries and rec centers seven days a week and to expand the variety of services and programming.
The root cause of our housing crisis in Philadelphia is poverty and a lack of affordable housing. I would leverage my background and experience as a housing attorney at Community Legal Services to inform all of my work in this space if elected.
Philadelphia is facing a housing crisis and has been for decades. I have spent my professional career working to keep low-income people in safe, affordable, and quality housing. I am in favor of increasing our housing and rental stock. Everyone deserves affordable, safe, quality housing. I would leverage my professional background in Council and get to work on a Housing Plan for Philadelphia that looks at our housing crisis holistically and offers solutions. Currently, affordable rental housing and homeownership are out of reach for too many Philadelphians.
To combat this, Philadelphia must create more affordable rental housing. I would focus funding on “low-income” housing for our lowest income residents and work with various entities to create more “affordable housing” (as defined by HUD guidelines that sets our Area Median Income at $60,000-$72,000). Finally, we need additional rental units for moderate income Philadelphians to help stabilize rents.
Philadelphia is a city of many low-income homeowners, and often the most affordable housing option is the home they are in. Council needs to expand programs that allow people to remain in their homes from targeted property tax relief, increased access to subsidized home repair programs, to support for the foreclosure diversion and tangled titles programs. PA’s new Whole Home Repair program will help many low-income homeowners make repairs and stay in their homes. We also need to expand our first time homebuyer assistance grants to make the homeowner dream accessible to more Philadelphians.
While Philadelphia waits for real action on climate change at the federal and international levels, our city government has a moral obligation to step up. We know the climate crisis is already here — and so Philadelphia must respond with urgency. The city saw it when Hurricane Ida flooded 676 in September of 2021, and when 100+ Philadelphia schools were forced to close due to extreme temperatures in June of 2022. Few issues are as transparently intersectional as environmental justice: supporting public safety, education, accessibility, and so much more. I support the City’s current commitment to decarbonize by 2050, but as a member of Council I’d push for a more truncated timeline to achieve neutrality by 2035. I support our municipal government working with organized labor to find opportunities to create union jobs while revamping our City’s energy grid. Unions and organized labor should be part of the engine for our transition to a carbon neutral future. These union jobs must include a diverse workforce, and I support efforts to continue to diversify all unions in Philadelphia, including the Building Trades.
I would make enforcement of dumping regulations a priority, I also see this issue connected to the need for “cleaning and greening” our neighborhoods that can lead to improved public safety outcomes. Genuine community safety and pride means providing a clean and safe environment along with an infrastructure of city and social services that allows folks to thrive while also decreasing the number of shootings. Full funding of Parks and Rec is not only an environmental priority of mine, but part of my desire to ensure that we are investing in our neighborhoods and providing accessibility to clean and green spaces. Council must work to intentionally reinvest in neighborhoods that have faced disinvestment, or neglect. This is one way to help achieve that.