Why this Philly women’s advocate is taking on 10-term congressman and power broker Bob Brady

'My goal in life is to make sure we give the tools and the pathway for people to direct their own destiny,' says U.S. House candidate Nina Ahmad.

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Former deputy mayor Nina Ahmad will challenge U.S. Rep. Bob Brady in the Democratic primary.

After Pennsylvania's congressional districts were redrawn, former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad decided against challenging U.S. Rep. Bob Brady in the Democratic primary. Instead, she'll run for lieutenant governor. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Ten-term Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, a Democratic power broker, will face competition in the May primary election from Nina Ahmad, Philadelphia’s former deputy mayor for public engagement.

Ahmad, who is also the former head of the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, said she plans to put diversity and inclusion front and center in her campaign as she makes her bid for a seat in Congress.

She sat down with NewsWorks Tonight’s Dave Heller to make her case.

Interview highlights

• On running against Brady after federal investigators accused his campaign of paying off a rival candidate in 2012, although he is unlikely to be charged:

“I was going to do this regardless of whether he was vulnerable or not … We have no women in the Pennsylvania delegation. None. Zero. The last person was [former U.S. Rep.] Allyson Schwartz, and I think the person before was Marjorie Margolies. So for us to be in the 21st century and to have no women representing Pennsylvania [in Congress] is reprehensible. So I have to put my money where my mouth is.”

•On how being an advocate for women means representing everyone’s interests:

“When you take the health of a country or a society, you look at how women and children are treated. And half the population are women, so when I empower women, we are going to have improvement across the board. Women make so many decisions about our families, about how we spend our money. So when we have situations that demean women, they are not living up to their full economic potential. I’m very interested in linking the issues that affect women to their economic impact.”

• On being a first-generation American running for office:

“I am first-generation American, so, as an immigrant, I am very grateful to this country and particularly to this city [Philadelphia] for having embraced me and for me having these opportunities, so I’m paying it forward. This is not an easy thing to do, I realize, for many people, so I want to be the person opening that door for others behind me.”

• On Mayor Jim Kenny’s reaction when she announced her resignation at City Hall to run for Congress:

“One of the things he did say was, ‘You have to do something you believe in, and if you don’t do it, you’re going to regret it.’ So he was as supportive as he could be, being the mayor. I don’t want to put him in an awkward position at all, he is the mayor for all the people, but I know he knows where my heart is. This is why he chose me to run his Office of Public Engagement, because he truly knows that my goal in life is to make sure we give the tools and the pathway for people to direct their own destiny.”

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