At Monday night’s East Falls Community Council meeting, residents heard from several candidates running for state and federal office on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The four candidates present at the forum were Armond James, the Republican challenger to embattled U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah; state Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D-198), who is running unopposed and both incumbent state Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-194th) and her challenger, Bill Pounds.
Fattah and both Gov. Tom Corbett and challenger Tom Wolf were invited but neither attended nor sent a representative.
DeLissio emphasized how her experience as a leader in both the non- and for-profit sectors has prepared her for the responsibility of holding public office.
She also underscored efforts that her office has made to cultivate a culture of bipartisan collaboration in Harrisburg, including seeking out representatives from the opposite side of the aisle.
DeLissio also noted that she has hosted 39 town-hall meetings since taking office four years ago before noting that her platform prioritizes policy over politics.
“Needs are urgent, and life is short,” she said.
A member of the Committee on Agriculture & Rural Affairs, DeLissio said she hopes to host the Agriculture Caucus on a tour of some of the more than 50 agricultural ventures operating the city.
Bill Pounds, a social worker in Philadelphia for 10 years, and is now employed by Northeast Treatment Services.
Asked about education, he said he is pro-vouchers, supports restructuring the way students are assigned to their home schools, reducing annual salaries of school-district employees making more than $125,000 by up to $20,000 and creating “a platform to work for the city that includes both City Hall and Harrisburg.”
Pounds told attendees that his campaign is about energy and drive, helping the community and constituent services.
He related the story of how he and several campaign volunteers helped clear away branches that encroached on wires leading into the home of a woman who, with several children, was unable to do so herself.
“I care about people. I want to help people. I want to help people get to the next level,” he explained of his world view. “I believe in empowering people, not enabling them, so that when they reach that next level, they want to keep going.”
Solo and/or unopposed
Armond James maintained that government in Philadelphia is failing the city, pointing out the lack of resources being made available for the city’s schools and the lack of opportunities available for men and women seeking work.
James said that he is running for office to “be an advocate for Philadelphia” and is campaigning with a “plan to move the district forward.”
For her part, Youngblood opened her comments with a call to elect a new governor, then listed several legislative issues on which her office is currently focused.
That included a three-bill package creating a “Public Education Improvement Fund” (which would implement a gambling-winnings assessment fee for educational-program use), property-tax relief and activating the city’s second gaming license.
She also said she supports a bill calling for the forensic audit of the Philadelphia School District and the School Reform Commission.
“Philadelphia has a declining and aging population. Why is it that every other county receives property tax relief, but we receive wage-tax relief?” she asked. “I think about what’s going on in the community and how I can best represent the interests of the members of my district.”