This story is a part of the Every Voice, Every Vote series.
What questions do you have about the 2023 elections? What major issues do you want candidates to address? Let us know.
With public safety a top concern for voters as Philadelphia prepares to elect new city leadership, WHYY’s News & Information Community Exchange (N.I.C.E.) wants to hear directly from Philadelphia’s voters on how the next mayor should approach solutions to gun violence and community safety.
So far, at least ten candidates have officially announced bids to become the next mayor. All are Democrats, each with a different philosophy on how to tackle crime in Philadelphia.
A community listening session held on Tuesday at the ECO Foundation in West Philadelphia was the first of two events inviting input from voters on what questions they would like mayoral candidates to answer.
The forum was organized by WHYY, the CeaseFirePA Education Fund, and Billy Penn as part of “Every Voice, Every Vote,” a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism with funding from the William Penn Foundation.
Issues highlighted by attendees varied from the city’s economy and gentrification to policing.
Rashaun Williams said he wants to know how the next mayor plans to accelerate change throughout the city, particularly pointing to reparations efforts that have been picking up steam across other major cities.
“This mayor needs to participate in the work of these Black organizing groups to make sure that the crimes against the humanity of Black people here in Philadelphia are addressed and addressed properly,” he said.
Jorden Michael, a volunteer with the ECO Foundation, said he wants the next mayor to focus on education and youth opportunities in light of curfews being enforced on teens as a result of an uptick in gun violence last year.
“It’s not fair that they’re not afforded better opportunities, and then they get treated as criminals. There’s nothing but complaints towards them — because there’s nothing better for them out here or is being provided,” Michael said.
There were more than 500 firearm homicides in Philadelphia in 2022. Just under 80% of fatal shooting victims were Black, and about half were between the ages of 18 and 30. At least 30 children were killed by gunfire.
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This story is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others.
Learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters here.