At-Large Candidate Guide
The Alliance for a Just Philadelphia developed the People's Platform to educate candidates on the top issues facing Philadelphians. To understand where candidates stand on the issues, we both sent out a candidate questionnaire to all candidates appearing on the May ballot for city council at-large and recorded candidates answers from our March 24th People's Forum.
With so many candidates, we struggled on the best way to lay out this information. Below you will see candidates 1-minute speeches from the March 24th forum.
On the right side, you can click on a question to see their answers from the questionnaire and the forum.
We hope this guide is helpful in how you vote this coming Tuesday!
Candidate Statements at the People's Forum
- Erika Almiron: I just wanna say that I had said yes to every thoughtful question that was put out today. I am, for those that don't know, I am the daughter of Paraguayan immigrants, I was born in South Philly. And for the last 20 years I have been doing social justice work in our city, in the home that we love. For five years I had spent with the Philadelphia Student Union, PSU in the house, doing education reform work and work to end the school-to-prison pipeline. The last eight years has been at Juntos, as the executive director, fighting for a sanctuary city policy and leading the fight last year to end the collaboration of ICE inside of our arrest database, PARS. I will say this: as a candidate, I have made a commitment to not take corporate money, corporate PAC money, dark money, corporate developer, real estate developer money--I'm looking at you, Allan Domb. And I'm saying it right now, I'm saying it right now: Philadelphia, I have worked for 20 years on social justice, I will fight for the people to the end, and I am the one that has been fighting side to side with people. I am your movement candidate. Erika Almiron.
- Ethelind Baylor: Good afternoon everyone. One of the things I would like to expound on is the prevention - drug prevention - what was it? What was the question, can I have the question one more time? I'm sorry. I just don't have the question, but the over- overdose prevention site. Okay, I am in support of that but one of the things I would like to be respectful of is the community and some of the community neighbors are black and brown and they are poor and they have concerns about it being placed in their community. They also have concerns of the distance and where it is placed in relation to schools. I live not too far from there, I drive through there, so I understand that there is a health crisis - I'm sorry - there is a health crisis. But we do need it, I just - we need to look at where it's going to be located. That's one of the issues and being respectful to the communities we serve.
- Vinny Black: Our world is sick on account of the lust for profit with no honest appraisal of the destruction caused. Our politics is sick on account of the domination of special interests. Real estate developers are the main camapign contributers to this race, and this election comes down to one issue: are we for millionaire real estate developers and their abatement, or are we gonna do something about the 26% who can barely survive out there? I propose a tax abatement on households making under $30,000 a year. The men and women on this stage here are the political leadership of Philadelphia, and I don't care if it's me or it's you, but let's show them what leadership is. Leadership's not running so far ahead of the pack that we no longer hear the anguish and suffering of our own. True leadership is to drop back and to see who is struggling. True leadership is to adopt the motto of our military brothers and sisters, to realize that we're in this together, to proclaim in unity: No one's getting left behind. I'm Vinny Black and I got Philadelphia's back. Thank you.
- Latrice Bryant: Good afternoon Philadelphia. My name is Latrice Bryant. I'm running for city council at-large. Many of you may know me around the city. I worked at city council for 16 years. I've served as as a block captain and committeeperson for over 30 years in the city of Philadelphia. I believe in giving back and serving. I believe in serving our seniors. I believe in serving our children. I currently work in the school disrict of Philadelphia, serving the children and seeing how dilapidated some of these schools are and how these teachers and principals are struggling each day to get these children to get a good education while walls are falling, heaters are acting up. I am a product of the school district of Philadelphia, graduating from Dobbins. But I also stayed in Philadelphia so that I could be able to serve each and every one of you. I believe in everyone being a part of the process. When I was in Councilman Goode's office I presented legislation called "Citizen's Participation in the Legislative Process," which makes you a part of the process, letting you come to your city council people to tell them what you would like to have done in your neighborhood. I would like to thank each and every one of you. My name is Latrice Bryant and I'm asking to please vote for me as one of the five at-large members for city council at-large. Thank you.
- Sherrie Cohen: Hello, good afternoon. I'm Sherrie Cohen, a lifelong social justice organizer. I'm a tenant rights lawyer, a lesbian feminist, a Democratic Socialist, and a movement candidate. We stand at a turning point today. Will Philly continue to become a playground for the rich and professional class, or will we be a city where working class communites of color can thrive? I'm running to end mass incarceration, to end displacement caused by gentrification, to transform our city from being the poorest big city in the nation. I'm fighting for community control of land, housing, schools, energy, and the police, for rent control, an end to the property tax abatement, at least a $15 an hour living wage and a union for all workers, full funding for our schools and libraries, fair funding and fair contracts for the Community College of Philadelphia, and a green new deal.
- Justin DiBerardinis: How you doing Forum? I'm Justin DiBerardinis. I was born in Kensington. I grew up in Fishtown. I love this city. I was a community organizer for pubic education. I led the campaign for a new Willard School in Kensington. I worked for Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez and I have been leading Bartram's Garden for the last six years--a public space committed to racial justice. A public space committed to equity. A public space committed to hiring people in the neighborhood that that park is in. Philadelphia, we are not a dying city anymore. I grew up in a dying town. We sold out to developers. We accepted corruption. We are not dying. We get to set the terms for prosperity, Philadelphia. Will we prosper with equity? Will we prosper with integrity? And will we prosper with justice? We can get there if we decide to get there. We can end abatements for corporations. We can make abatements for the working poor. We can create jobs in every single neighborhood that needs them. We need teachers' aids in schools. We need people cleaning streets. We need people keeping our parks safe. That's the New Deal for Philadelphia. I'm Justin DiBerardinis. I'm running for city council. Thank you.
- Allan Domb: Good afternoon, thank you for having me here today. Just briefly, I've passed nine bills in city council. City council's budget's five billion dollars, just so everybody's clear. We start budget hearings tomorrow. I'm the one who called out in April the 33 million that was unaccounted for in the seven accounts in the city that were not reconciled, some going back seven years. We passed legislation, supported by my colleague Helen Gym, to get monthly reconciliation bills. I've paid for 122 teachers to teach 3500 kids financial literacy in schools. We put in a resolution asking the state to teach mandatory pre-K to twelth grade financial literacy, technology and coding, entrepreneurship in 7th to 12th grade, and allow kids to work one day a week 9th through 12th grade. But more importantly, this is about jobs, we need more jobs in our city, we need to create more jobs. Okay, so thank you very much.
- Sandra Dungee Glenn: Good afternoon. I just wanted to say that I think one of the best predictors of what someone is going to do on City Council is looking at what they've done. I'm a lifelong Philadelphian and I've been standing with working people and poor people all of my life. I've worked with PhilaPOSH and standing up for workers rights on the job to make sure they were safe and protected on the job, and I will continue to do that. Like making sure we have a liveable wage and 15 dollars an hour is just a starting point, and we need to be looking beyond that. The other thing I would say is that education and moving our families out of poverty is the most important thing that Philadelphia has to do. Everything we do needs to be aligned with that. Education is a key point of that. Yes our schools need to be strong, we need to make sure they have more money. We need to make sure our families voices are heard and our student voices are heard. Third thing I would say is about affordable housing. We need to make sure that the long-term residents have a chance to stay in their homes. We want to be there and we're protecting them and we're giving them the resources to take care and fix up their homes. So I will be standing on those things and jobs in our community - every one of our young people needs to have a future and be linked to their future with jobs and internships. Thank you.
- Beth Finn: Hi, I'm Beth Finn and I am a co-founder of the Women's March on Philadelphia, a fifteen-year brain tumor survivor, an IT project manager, and a member here at Rodeph Shalom. So welcome to our sanctuary. I'm running because I'm fighting for econmic opportunity, strong neighborhoods, and good government. City Hall is broken. We've had the same challenges for decades, and every four year politicians come along and tell us they're going to fix it. But we need a paradigm shift. "We the people" means the elected officials work for us. Transparency, accountability, and oversight are not just wish list ideas, they are things we should expect every day. Solving these problems requires funding. That's why on day one I will fight for the creation of a public bank in Philadelphia to fund all of these wonderful things we've discussed today. In my day job, I make sure we're solving the right problems, and we need that kind of evidence-based thinking in City Hall. It's a crowded field with a lot of good candidates. I'm an unapologetic and proud progressive and I believe government needs to work for all people--not just the wealthy ones. You all have a choice on May 21st and I hope I've earned one of your spots. Thank you.
- Katherine Gilmore Richardson: Good afternoon. Philadelphia is soaring to new heights, and we're leaving too many people behind. Today in Philadelphia the number one predictor of life expectancy is the zip code where you live. And that cannot be the answer that any of us here are satisfied with. We need to end generational poverty. I was born to a teenage South Philly girl who gave me up for adoption at birth to my parents, and because of my adoptive parents I can stand here on this stage before you this afternoon. We need to invest in our education system. We need to invest in our crumbling infrastructure. We need to invest in job creation. And most importantly, invest in ending generational poverty. I'm Katherine Gilmore Richardson, running for council at-large.
- Irina Goldstein: Good afternoon everyone. My name is Irina Goldstein. I came to America thirty years ago from the former Soviet Union, where my family and I were prosecuted against because of our religion and because of our political beliefs. I come from a socialist and communist country. Everything I have, everything I will ever be I owe to the City of Philadelphia. I am blessed beyond words to have been given the chance to be here and to be on this stage today. The thing that you unites us all--you can't vote for me on May 21st--make sure you pick the right candidates for which you can vote. But you can vote for me, the only Republican standing here today listening to your issues because the Philadelphia people's issues are my issues, even as a Republican. I can for the people of Philadelphia and the blessings that are looking forward to us. Thank you for your time and vote in November for the only Republican that came and cared.
- Helen Gym: Four years ago I ran for city council, after 20 years of organizing in communities for whom politics wasn't working. But like many of you in this room, I wasn't going to be defined by the status quo. My race was gonna change the way and the limits of what was possible to win in this city. And from the moment I've gotten elected I've tried to show you what a people-powered agenda looks like. It means we drive a stake into the heart of the SRC and school privatization. It means we win a fair work week standards for 130,000 people. It means that we tackle the eviction crisis that targeted Black women and mothers. And it means that we, and it means that we end PARS and defend our sanctuary cities. I wasn't just gonna be your representative and I wasn't just gonna open the door. I was gonna kick it in and bring you all in there with me. So now, this is our political moment, folks, this is our chance to unite the progressive left in a movement that will take on City Hall and the tax abatement and make corporations pay their fair share. If you elect me, I'm gonna lead a city council that's not only gonna make this room proud, it's gonna make it more powerful than it's ever been. I'm Helen Gym and I'm looking forward to that.
- Ogbonna Hagins: Good afternoon, my name is Ogbonna Hagins--like Obama, but it's Ogbonna. I'm a retired teacher, I taught nine years at Dobbins high school. My campaign is about stopping the war against the poor. Three weeks ago, four weeks ago, when we were getting petitions I did a tour starting at 40th and Lancaster, where Dr. King in 1965 had the Freedom Now March, Freedom Now Tour that started right there at 40th and Lancaster. I am focused on the war against the poor, to stop the war against the poor by improving our education system, by keeping our environment, I'm also known as Philly Green Man, to keeping our environment clean--both the schools and our physical environment. As a teacher, it was all about education. I have twin sons who are studying music, one in the Netherlands right now, one in Berkley going to Berkley, and I want the same thing for the education of all of our citizens here in Philadelphia. Thank you.
- Adrian Rivera-Reyes: Thank you. Hi everyone, I'm Adrian Rivera-Reyes. I wanna say that I'm grateful to be standing here for many reasons. And I want to tell you why my candidacy is about so much more than just the luck of the draw. And I'm committed to building a thriving Philadelphia for all of us. I'm running for City Council because there's nobody on City Council like me, or there's nobody on City Council representing directly the communities that I represent. In a city where 65% of the people are under 44, millenials should have a voice on city council. In a city where LGBTQ people, in particularly the trans community, are still marginalized, the LGBTQ community should have a voice on city council. In a city that has a thriving and growing immigrant population, people who were fortunate to come here and make Philadelphia their home, should have a voice on city council. Thank you everyone. My name is Adrian Rivera-Reyes, and I'm running for city council at large.
- Mark Ross: Good afternoon, my name is Mark Ross as they said. I'm a lifelong resident of Philadelphia. And if any of you know I live in the Temple University area. And there's a lot of development going on around in Temple. You know, I'm here just to back up that we need to abolish the 10 year abatement of these developers. Taxes are so high right now, people can't afford to live in their houses, they're being forced out of their houses. This is a form to me of gentrification, and it needs to stop. And we need to stop the politics as usual in political offices so if you feel like I do, you know that we need to get a change in these policies. Thank you.
- Isaiah Thomas: So my name is Isaiah Thomas, and I am excited to be here. I'll just appreciate everybody being here on a Sunday afternoon. We discussed a lot of issues, and I think the thing that resonated with me was just putting people in a position to lead that's experienced these things. So what are some of the things that we talked about? We talked about terrible schools. I'm a product of the School District of Philadelphia, I come from those schools, I've taught in those schools, and I still work in those schools. We talked about the idea of getting stopped and frisked. I was stopped and frisked three times last year. And I listened to the story that was told and that story is definitely a tragedy, but if you've been stopped and frisked in Philadelphia, you know that's not the worst of how it goes. And so we talked about a lot of different issues, from poverty--you know I coach high school basketball, I get that text from young people all the time: Coach I'm hungry. Coach I need a ride. I got a text from a student this year: Coach, my momma's being put out of her house on Friday. How am I supposed to tell that young man to come to practice? So the reason I want to run for city council is because when you talk about those lived experiences, I come from that demographic and I want to take that fight to City Hall and fight for people that look like me.
- Fernando Trevino-Martinez: Good afternoon everyone, my name is Fernando Trevino. I was born in Mexico. I came to the U.S. almost 20 years ago. Philly became home in a heartbeat, this is where I met my wife, where my kids were born, and where I actually became a US citizen working for President Obama just six years ago. I'm very proud to share with you that I'm running to be the first immigrant to city council. During my whole time, during my whole career, I have worked with underrepresented communities, I have defended the rights of immigrants, and I have empowered minority voters to have a voice in the political process. And because of my work with these underrepresented communities, I couldn't answer yes, right now, to the question of would you abolish 100% the 10-year tax abatement. In good faith, I cannot turn around and tell to my community and to many unrepresented communities, to tell them that we cannot give them a little bit of extra help to buy a property that is valued $250 or 300,000 or under. There is no question that we should reform, there is no question that we should abolish the 10-year tax abatement for properties 700 and up, but I won't turn around and tell my community that I won't help them a little bit to buy a first-time home. Thank you guys.
The following candidates did not attend the forum and therefore have no statements:
- Fareed Abdullah
- Deja Alvarez
- Bobbie Curry
- Wayne Dorsey
- Bill Heeney
- Drew Murray
- Eryn Santamoor
- Janice Tangradi
- Billy Thompson
- Hena Veit
- Wayne Allen
- Devon Cade
- Joseph A Diorio
- Derek Green
- Asa Khalif
- David Oh
- Edwin Santana
- Al Taunbenberger
- Dan Tinney
- Matt Wolfe