Moving to get out the Philly vote, black leaders aim to hold candidates to policy promises

 Asia Coney, president of the Resident Advisory Board, and other participants in the Philadelphia Black Political Summit Coalition announce their recommendations to city government at a press conference Wednesday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Asia Coney, president of the Resident Advisory Board, and other participants in the Philadelphia Black Political Summit Coalition announce their recommendations to city government at a press conference Wednesday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

With an eye toward getting voters to the polls, black leaders in Philadelphia have put out an agenda for the city’s political candidates.

At the Philadelphia Black Political Summit in mid-April, about 250 participants helped create the wide-ranging list of policy recommendations in the areas of education, health, housing and public safety, among others. 

Summit organizers presented the agenda at a press conference Wednesday at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. 

Bilal Qayyum said Monday’s riot in Baltimore should send a message to candidates running to be Philadelphia’s next mayor about the importance of paying attention to the concerns of the black community — the city’s largest voting bloc.

“That mayor has to work with us to solve the major problems that are affecting the African-American community in particular, but also the Latino community and all the communities of color and the white community,” he said. “We cannot solve this independent of each other.”

The group’s next move, Qayyum said, will be to hold town hall-style meetings “to educate folks not only about the political process, but what’s in this document to build a groundswell of support … from the community.”

Candidates for mayor and City Council were asked to sign the agenda as a whole and to indicate whether they support each of the 31 recommendations including better publicity for existing government programs, diversity and trauma training for the city’s police and firefighters and ending consideration of selling Philadelphia Gas Works. 

All six Democratic mayoral candidates have signed off on the agenda. Fourteen City Council candidates also signed the document, including incumbents Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District) and Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) who both face tough re-election fights. 

Summit organizers said they plan to follow up with any signers who end up winners in the November general election.

“No longer are we going to give them a document and just say, please sign off the document and hopefully you’ll do these recommendations,” said Emmanuel Bussie who heads the summit’s accountability committee. “No. They’re going to be held accountable to those recommendations.” 

The first town hall meeting will be held ahead of the May 19 primary on May 16 at 10 a.m. For more information, visit blackpoliticalsummit.com.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.