This article first appeared in Billy Penn.
As Philadelphians prepare to elect their first new mayor in eight years, public safety and gun violence are at the top of voters’ minds.
Nearly three-quarters of residents say it’s the most important issue facing the city, according to a 2022 survey by Pew, with close to half of respondents saying a family member or close friend had recently been the victim of violent crime.
Reversing Philly’s violence epidemic is a foremost task facing anyone who wants to lead the city, which is why WHYY News, Billy Penn, and CeaseFirePA partnered to host a forum on the topic.
Nearly all the declared Democratic candidates have confirmed attendance for the 100th Mayor: Restoring Safety Forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 1. The event will be livestreamed via Facebook, and produced for broadcast on WHYY TV-12 at a later date. (Due to limited seating, in-person tickets were invite-only.)
Questions for the mayoral contenders were sourced over the course of several listening sessions held around the city by CeaseFirePA and WHYY’s N.I.C.E. project.
They’ll be posed by a trio of moderators who represent various branches of the many sectors and groups galvanized to help fight the problem — a gun violence prevention reporter who does immersive coverage of the issue, a community leader who runs a nonprofit helping heal people impacted by violence, and a trauma surgeon who helps save shooting victims and provide support for those left behind.
Meet our moderators below, and RSVP here to follow along with the livestream.
Sam Searles is a Report for America corps member covering gun violence and prevention for WHYY News.
Chantay Love is cofounder and president of EMIR Healing Center (Every Murder is Real), which works to heal communities one family at a time. The organization creates new models to support healing and to uncover trauma — with the goal of breaking the cycle of future violence
Love was raised in the Abbotsford Projects in Allegheny West, where most of her exposure to violence occurred. She is a survivor of incest and witness to domestic violence. On March 26, 1997, her only brother, Emir Peter Greene, was shot seven times in the back. The trauma from her loss and exposure to violence became the blueprint for her ongoing work.
A certified crisis response and restorative justice trainer, Love has been appointed by the governor to serve on Pennsylvania’s Homicide Review Team and the Advisory Commission on African American Affairs. She holds a masters in human services administration from Lincoln University, and is a Christ servant minister for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of United Methodist Church.
Elinore Kaufman serves as medical director of the Penn Trauma Violence Recovery Program, which provides individualized support and case management to survivors of violent injury.
She’s an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, where she works as a trauma surgeon and health services researcher.
Her work is focused on reducing harm from injury and violence, including injury prevention and interventions to support holistic healing in injured patients. She holds an MD from Harvard University, and a masters in health policy from Penn, where she also completed her fellowship in trauma surgery and surgical critical care.