As primary elections approach, NEast Philly will interview council-at-large candidates so readers can get to know the names they’ll see on the ballot.
Today we meet Elmer Money. With a degree in health care administration from St. Joe’s, Money has made the city’s health care crisis a primary focus of his campaign. The Northwest Philly native started his married life in the Northeast with wife Carolyn. Children Emily and Spencer were born in suburban hospitals, despite the family settling in Morrell Park.
You can catch him at Mitchell Playground or at Torresdale Swim Club, and Money credits his involvement at Christ the King School and the Morrell Park Civic Association/Town Watch. Money is also a community board of director for the Northeast’s Philadelphia Health Center #10.
NEast Philly: Why council-at-large and not a specific district?
Elmer Money: I see an opportunity for an at-large candidate who has a health care background. I would like to fill the void on council as an advocate who can promote social change and improve health services especially for those who are most vulnerable; I would be able to ensure compliance with hospital charity care and community benefit standards.
There are only six maternity departments in the Philadelphia. Fourteen obstetric units or hospitals have closed over the past 12 years within Philadelphia, yet City Council has been silent. When Northeastern Hospital closed leaving neighborhoods of Port Richmond, Bridesburg and Fishtown with limited access to valuable health services, again silence. This problem is of great significance for preserving the health of all of Philadelphia, not just a single district.
As a representative of the people, there is a need to fulfill a major commitment to the residents of this city when inpatient, emergency and maternity services continue to be eliminated; how can neighborhood revitalization begin to occur when hospitals are either closing or eliminating services?
NEP: You’ve made health care a focal point of your campaign. How do you plan to address these issues?
EM: Those who use the services of Philadelphia’s health care facilities and institutions need to be represented as family members. All patients deserve the dignity and respect in maintaining the best alternatives of care. That includes compassion and understanding in building upon the connection of all people as members of the same family.
Suggestions on solving this crisis include creating an opportunity for the establishment of a free-standing birthing facility using a doula and/or midwifery staffing model or a postpartum bed and breakfast.
As well, in a city with high sickness and low income, I would like City Council to promote dynamic local industries specifically in the medical, insurance and pharmaceutical fields. High on my list would be to eliminate Council member Tasco’s 3.93 percent assessment on hospital gross patient revenue.
NEP: Are there any other main focal points you’d like to address, or that you’d like Council as a whole to address?
EM: There is a need to bring the city’s regulations and business practices into the 21st century with respect to creating a simple, understandable and consistent method of maintaining compliance and collection of taxes and fees for both residential and business property.
Other ideas include the elimination of the Business Privilege Tax as well a desire to evaluate, revitalize and negotiate not-for-profit business Payment in Lieu of Tax plans. As well, promote truthfulness in evaluating underperforming departments where a review of all policies and positions could lead to where the use of technology or outsourcing would be a viable option.
NEP: Why now? Why run for council in 2011?
EM: If anyone were to look at City Council and ask, “What have they accomplished?” and “How have they made a difference?” the answers would be terribly lacking. So, the opportunity presented itself to offer solutions for these two issues, as well as to challenge an underperforming status-quo. And with Kelly retiring and Rizzo participating in DROP, it offered a chance to potentially revitalize the Republican Party in Philadelphia, a chance to rebuild a competitive two-party environment in Philadelphia.
NEP: Paint us two pictures of the future: One in which you’re elected, on in which you’re not.
EM: The pictures are pretty much the same. I will continue to be an active participant in my family, neighborhood and community. If chosen to represent the people of Philadelphia, I will do so with passion and enthusiasm on a much larger scale, but I will continue my parish and community activities. Both pictures include a faithful dedication to Carolyn, Emily and Spencer as husband, father and friend.
Other NEast Philly at-large interviews
NEP: Is there anyone in Council right now you think is doing a particularly good job at addressing a key issue?
EM: ‘If you don’t want something to get done, send it to a committee,’ is a perfect description for the actions of City Council members who continue to prove that they don’t know what either the problems or the solutions are for Philadelphia. An example would be even after having a Tax Reform Commission in 2003, a Mayor’s Taskforce on Tax Policy and Economic Competitiveness in 2009, several Pew reports, tax comparisons by Philadelphia Forward and testimony by several local chambers of commerce, what have council members acted on? Very little.
It almost seems like they want to keep holding hearings until they get the answers they want and ignore the truth because it’s easier than actually doing something.
NEP: What should people expect from their council and council-at-large members?
EM: A commitment to excellence. A commitment to represent the best interest of the people of Philadelphia. Dedication to building a thriving future Philadelphia.
NEP: What’s your take on DROP?
EM: The Deferred Retirement Option Plan needs to be eliminated in its entirety and the ethically challenged elected officials who are participating in the DROP should not be re-elected.
It seems the overlooked fact about DROP is that part of the agreement to raise Philadelphia’s sales tax to 8% included a provision that future elected representatives will be excluded from the DROP program; pressure should be maintained on those campaigning for re-election who have yet to declare their intent.
NEP: What’s the next big event coming up in your campaign?
EM: The next big event is the Committee of Seventy/League of Woman Voters candidate debate on May 12 and continuing to visit neighborhood groups and knocking on as many doors as possible to try to encourage participation in voting on May 17.
NEP: Council-at-large can be a tough sell. How do you plan to make yourself a city-wide candidate?
EM: It’s difficult campaigning at a city-wide level since there are so many diverse community groups, civic associations and candidate forums, but I have done the best I can and will continue to push forward hoping for the positive results on May 17th.
The difficult part is that I have not gotten much support from the Republican ward leaders, since according to some, I am a true Republican and too conservative, as if that’s a negative in a Republican primary.
It seems the qualifications to be a Republican candidate this year are to be gay, at one time have been registered as a Democrat or be liberal-leaning, but my message of family values, financial responsibility and individual accountability continue to ring strong with those who in their heart know the difference between right and wrong.