FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 26, 2023
CONTACT: Arielle Klagsbrun, email@example.com
OVER FIVE HUNDRED PACK CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE FORUM FOR PEOPLE’S FORUM ON HOT BUTTON ISSUES
The Alliance for a Just Philadelphia, coalition of progressive organizations, asked questions regarding safety, education, affordable housing and people over profits
PHILADELPHIA—On Sunday, March 26th, over five hundred people packed Congregation Rodeph Shalom on Broad Street for the second historic People’s Forum for City Council At-Large candidates, hosted by the Alliance for a Just Philadelphia, a progressive coalition of nearly 30 community and labor organizations. The issues highlighted in the People’s Forum came directly from the Alliance for a Just Philadelphia’s 2023 People’s Platform, a multi-issue agenda that centers the demands of Black, Brown and working class Philadelphians that both City Council and the Mayor can act on immediately.
Nearly twenty community leaders across race, age, neighborhood, ability and language shared personal testimony around hot-button issues such as alternative to the police, the proposed 76ers arena in Chinatown, the affordable housing crisis, fully-funded public services, the Hilco redevelopment of the South Philly oil refinery and passing a Philadelphia wealth tax. 25 City Council At-Large candidates representing the Democratic Party, Republican Party and Working Families Party crowded the stage and held up yes/no signs around these issues. A full recording of the Forum can be found here.
There was unanimous approval from all candidates present on hot-button issues including fully funding mobile crisis units, earmarking city funds for the School District for school facilities renovations, holding Hilco accountable for a Community Benefits Agreement, and restoring 7-day a week services for libraries and recreation centers.
“Our movements have long recognized that in order to keep our communities safe we can’t send people armed with guns to respond to people in mental health crises. Today all candidates for City Council At-Large unanimously agreed with us and committed to fully fund mobile crisis teams and involve the community in its expansion,” said T Bah with Free the Ballot who asked the question around funding alternatives to the police.
“Since the 2008 recession, our communities have pushed for full funding for vital services like parks, recreation centers and libraries – and a restoration of 7-day a week programming and full staffing. Libraries and recreation centers help us cope with the world we are trying to survive in. These public spaces ARE violence prevention. Having fully funded, open, welcoming libraries and recreation centers is a win win for the city and all of its residents. We will hold all newly elected candidates to 7-day a week services in libraries and recreation centers,” said Erme Maula with Friends of Whitman Library and the Tax the Rich PHL coalition.
Candidates in attendance included: Nina Ahmad (D), Erika Almirón (D), Christopher Booth (D), Councilmember Kendra Brooks (WFP), Sherrie Cohen (D), Luz Colon (D), Abu Edwards (D), Councilmember Kathy Gilmore Richardson (D), NaDerah Griffin (D), Ogbonna Paul Hagins (D), John B. Kelley (D), Rue Ladau (D), Amanda McIllmurray (D), Drew Murray (R), Nicolas O’Rourke (WFP), Michelle Prettyman (D), Clayton Prince (D), Charles Reyes (D), Melissa Robbins (D), Curtis Segers (D), Derwood Selby (D), Qiana Shedrick (D), George Stevenson (D), Councilmember Isaiah Thomas (D) and DeShawnda Williams (D).
On many issues, a nearly unanimous bloc of candidates present on stage (excluding the Republican) agreed in support of community speakers around issues such passing a Philadelphia Wealth Tax, funding the PA Immigrant Family Unity Project to stop the detention of Philadelphia immigrants, and the proposed 76ers arena in Chinatown.
“Chinatown has fought off a federal prison, a baseball stadium and two casinos. We built for our community, not over our community….If elected, will you vote against any attempt to rezone or pass permits that would allow developers to construct an arena at the Fashion District?”, said Wei Chen and Debbie Wei with Asian Americans United.
The Alliance for a Just Philadelphia came together in 2018. Groups currently in the Alliance include: 215 People’s Alliance, Abolitionist Law Center, ACT UP, Action Center on Race and Economy, ADAPT/Disabled in Action, Amistad Law Project, Asian Americans United, Black Lives Matter Philly, Caucus of Working Educators, Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration, JUNTOS, Movement Alliance Project, National Domestic Workers Alliance – PA, One Pennsylvania, The Organizing Center, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, Philly Neighborhood Networks, Philly Student Union, Philly Thrive, POWER, Project Safe, Reclaim Philadelphia, Red Umbrella Alliance, Soil Generation, Straight Ahead, VietLead, Working Families Organization and Youth Art and Self Empowerment Project.
This Alliance for a Just Philadelphia 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. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit www.everyvoice-everyvote.org. Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.