• Edison High School
• Rider University, Associate’s degreeOccupation:
City Councilman (incumbent, Fifth District
• Chief of staff for City Councilman John Street
• Oversaw legislative, housing and economic development initiatives for the 5th Council District Political experience:
• Three terms on the City Council
Why did you get into politics?
“I was involved in advocacy before I got involved in politics. I was involved in some of the movements in early years: the Civil Rights movement and the second phase of the Civil Rights movement. I got involved with a community organization. I was actually talked into running for a committeeman position by one of the gentleman in my neighborhood. I took a shot at it and, lo and behold, I won.”
What is your top or proudest legislative achievement?
“There’s no one single piece. I’ve done a lot of things. One of the more significant things was the charter change initiative on merging the Parks Department and Recreation Department. I sponsored significant legislation on gun law reforms. I sponsored legislation, most recently, on blight removal initiatives. I’ve sponsored legislation on creating development districts. I mean, it’s just a lot of things. Ten years, particularly as a district councilman, is a significant opportunity.”
What most needs improvement in your district?
“The thing that is mostly missing at this point in large parts of my district is job opportunities. We’ve been relatively successful in our development. We’ve developed more than 6,000 units of affordable housing over the past several years. But there still needs to be significant job creation, and that’s just not in my district, obviously.”
What do you love about Philadelphia?
“It’s a very livable city. It’s a large urban city but it still has a relatively small town feel and I like that about it.”
What Council practice or custom would you most like to change?
“I’d like to see Council be a little more aggressive as it relates to job creation strategies, which we are actually going to be doing. I’d also like to see us take a little more of a proactive approach as it relates to the budget. Our traditional practice is Council receives the Mayor’s budget and we respond to that. This term we anticipate having more hearings to insure that we have a snapshot during the course of the fiscal year on where we stand and that we have the necessary information to make some recommendations.”
Do you support term limits?
“Yes – they’re called elections. We have a term limit come May 17th, I believe. I think the people have the ability to un-elect people. In the most recent federal election there was significant change and people felt the need to go in the other direction. So I think that’s the most democratic process available to not only people in the country but in all the cities and municipalities – their right to maintain an elected official and their right to dispose of an elected official.”
What is your position on DROP?
“I don’t have a problem with having a retirement program for municipal employees. I think it should be cost-neutral and I hope within the very near future we amend the program to reflect that. It should not be a burden on the city’s pension fund. The state determined (whether elected officials were eligible to participate in DROP). So it’s a moot point. The state said elected officials can’t be in DROP.”
Why should the voters give you another term?
“I think we’ve made significant progress in the district when it comes to development opportunities or when it comes to the physical improvement of the district, when it comes to the fact that I’ve been very aggressive and involved in the most pertinent matters relating to public safety or relating to pushing for adequate educational opportunities and ensuring that we maintain a city that’s fiscally sound. I’ve been Chairman of the Committee of Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation, which is one of my primary focuses throughout the course of the year, making sure we’re fiscally sound.
“One thing that a lot of people don’t care about, but I’m very proud of the fact that – knock on wood – I’ve never missed a day of Council in my 11 years on Council. I believe I was fortunate to have parents that instilled a significant work ethic in me. (Constituents) will get their money’s worth having me in office.”
What’s the most interesting non-political thing about you? What one thing would you like voters to know?
“Given how much I’m immersed in government and my job, I haven’t thought a whole lot about that. I think that the fact that I’ve had a very good personal relationship with the people in my district and my colleagues, I think I’m a very personable guy and it’s genuine. I like the fact that I get along with people quite well. I think that’s very important because it keeps you grounded to make sure that, day-to-day, you have a clear sense of what your basis is as it relates to being on this Earth, frankly speaking.”
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