Maria Quiñones-Sánchez

Age: 42
Residence: Norris Square
Hometown: Hunting Park
•    Jules Mastbaum High School
•    Lincoln University, Master’s in Human Services
Occupation: City Councilwoman (incumbent, Seventh District)
•    Tomas Sánchez, husband, 48, Director of Business Services at Temple University
•    Edgar, son, 22
•    Tomas, son, 12
Career highlights:
•    Helped create the first bilingual charter school in Pennsylvania, Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community Charter School, in 1999
•    Founding member and first Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Statewide Latino Coalition
Political experience:
•    One term on the City Council
•    First Latina ever elected to serve on the Philadelphia City Council
•    Regional Director for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, serving Pennsylvania and Delaware from 2003-2007
•    Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner of Elections in 1992
•    Serves on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Women’s Campaign Fund, a statewide political action committee working to elect progressive women to the state legislature

Why did you get into politics?

“I come from a community activist’s perspective. I’ve gone from an activist and an advocate to working at a nonprofit and dealing with and helping to shape public policy to, ultimately, a policy person, a legislator. It was kind of a natural progression.”

What is your top or proudest legislative achievement?

“Reshaping the business tax discussion. It really showed that we have an opportunity to change the discussion from what we’ve been told as being the truth (to the actual truth). Many times in politics if you say it enough times, it becomes reality. This discussion was very data-centered and research-based. What was seen as conventional wisdom was not in the best interest of the city. That’s true reform – you look at something and really open up the discussion and change course.

“We were able to show that it wasn’t the gross receipts tax but the net profit tax that most hurts Philadelphia-based businesses. In the future we will use this information in the development of our budget and our next five-year plan.”

What most needs improvement in your district?

“Creating an economic base outside of education. Creating wealth and opportunity is the only way we’re going to increase employment and resources for a district that, in some parts, lives in extreme poverty.”

What do you love about Philadelphia?

“What I’ve learned to appreciate being on the City Council is that we’re a city of neighborhoods with different mindsets and that’s a good thing. It really does show a level of diversity that makes us a welcoming city. The fact that you can move to a particular neighborhood because you are a parks person – you can take a whole wide range of things and there’s a neighborhood that will fit you. I think that’s pretty unique.”

What Council practice or custom would you most like to change?

“I’d like for us to be more technology-savvy, for example using interface and social networking media to communicate with our constituencies and also to change our resources internally – not financial, but knowledge-based resources. We could have a full-fledged budgeting unit or legislative unit that looks at best practices across the country. I think the city council as an institution has been run the same way for a long time. We’re not using technology to tell our story.”

Do you support term limits?

“It’s easy to say ‘support term limits’ because I think the average tenure (in City Council) is about 15 years. But I look at New York City and the chaos it created there. Now you have kids and siblings (of previous councilmembers) serving on council there, so you didn’t break up the dynasties. I don’t think institutional memory is bad. If you want to get turnover in the City Council, term limits may not be the best way to go.”

What is your position on DROP?

“I think elected officials broke it and, therefore, we have to fix it. Legally we have to fix it in a way that does not open us up to a challenge to our bargaining units, but allows us to use it as a management tool to downsize departments and for planning purposes, which is not how it’s been used. I think we need to fix it – I don’t think full elimination is what we need. We need it to be used as a management tool.”

Why should the voters give you another term?

“I believe that we have demonstrated, even under extreme economic conditions, that I understand community development. We laid a course in terms of the type of community development in the district that increased housing, the rebuilding of recreational facilities and even the (economic) growth around schools. They are real key to community development and, with limited resources, we’ve continued to move those agendas. It’s important for that reason that I deserve at least another term.”

What’s the most interesting non-political thing about you? What one thing would you like voters to know?

“(My) urgency in everyday thinking of how I could do more the following day. There’s this notion that politicians don’t work hard. I work very hard and I always feel like I could be doing more.”

Written responses from the candidates are posted verbatim. Profiles compiled following telephone interviews are sent to the candidates for verification of their accuracy. The non-partisan Committee of Seventy does not endorse or oppose any candidate and is providing this information as an educational public service. Seventy reserves the right to edit candidate responses for length, clarity, and style.

We are posting these profiles in the order we receive the information from the candidates. Are you a candidate for City Council? Would you like to complete Seventy's brief candidate profile to be posted here on our site? Please contact Luke McKinstry at (215) 557-3600, Ext. 112.

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