This is the last of 10 questions about issues and priorities that NewsWorks asked the seven Democratic candidates running for the Eighth District City Council seat. The questions were drafted by voters who attended NewsWorks forums earlier this spring.
The last 16 years have created a tremendous sense of resentment in many neighborhoods that they’ve been ignored and given a less fair crack at the resources controlled by the Councilperson. What will you do to respond to that feeling, and to create a fair, transparent allocation of resources among neighborhoods in the Eighth?
Form the District 8 Community Council consisting of the more than 30 organizations from across the District. The purpose of this council will be three fold: 1) Insuring that the concerns of the members of the 8th District are heard and presented to the Council person. 2) That the community is an active participant in any and all development projects within the district and 3) Help define community needs, identify concerns, and help create Request for Proposals for future development projects within the 8th district in a process that is fair and transparent.
I will conduct town meetings monthly through out the District to listen and inform neighbors of City business. I will open and maintain an office in the District to make government more user friendly to tax payers. I will work and plan with neighbors how to spend city tax dollars. I will use a District web page to help spread information and I will work to make the District an example of complete and affordable web access, working to provide access at the community recreation centers as well as increasing access at the branch libraries.
I pledge to be the Councilperson for all of the 8th District. I will reach out to the entire District through weekly e-letters, bi-monthly meetings with residents in the major sections of the District, and quarterly newsletters. I will locate a constituent services office in the District and, through my staff, respond to citizen questions and concerns on a regular basis. I pledge that I will allocate resources in an open and fair way, so that District residents have input into the priority setting process and will know in advance the who, what and why of all proposed allocations and be afforded an opportunity to be heard prior to any actual allocation of resources.
I have heard this sentiment from voters across the district during the campaign, and I have certainly been hearing it for years from my neighbors in Germantown. I am proud to have played a role in the revitalization of the Mt. Airy business district, and I want to bring that energy to the rest of the 8th District. The first step is to stop the back room deals and mismanagement of public funds that have led to widespread blight and disasters like Germantown Settlement. The second step is to make sure the public is consulted before decisions are made that could negatively impact our neighborhoods. The fact that the Fresh Grocer, which received substantial public funding, was closed without any public input is shameful. The developers are now facing the public, but it’s too little and too late.
I have said many times that the Eighth District, with its diversity, storied history, and selfless, well-intentioned residents, is a microcosm of the City of Philadelphia. In that sense, we must elect leaders whose skills and experience will most benefit this entire diverse district. I am the candidate with the most experience working both in the community and for its benefit in City Hall. That experience – especially in dealing with matters of healthy community development, zoning reform, and investor-neighbor relations – will be put to good use on behalf of every neighborhood of our district.
As Councilperson, I will take a number of steps to help alleviate the resentment that has been built up over the years. First, I will hire excellent staff. I will ensure that their priorities are also the priorities of the community as well as my own. Second, I will open a District office where, as I have stated, I will spend an equitable amount of time between that office and my City Hall office. Third, I will have regular and varied forms of communication with the constituents of the 8th where they feel included in the process. With respect to the allocation of resources, I plan on communicating all opportunities in the 8th District in various media that are available to the residents.
I will be fair to all. That’s all I can do. I want to see the whole district grow and prosper. I need to be that example, and I will be that example. I’ve build my professional career foundation on integrity, inclusiveness, hard work, trust, and treating people with respect. I don’t think I’m going to change that formula now. “TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK”
NewsWorks would like to thank all of the Eighth District candidates for participating in our effort to inform the voters before Tuesday’s primary election. On Election night visit NewsWorks for complete coverage of the Eighth District voting results.