PHILADELPHIA – Alliance for a Just Philadelphia (AFAJP) held a candidate forum for City Council’s seven At-Large seats on March 26, 2023, in the packed sanctuary at Rodeph Shalom, 615 N Broad Street. Twenty-one of the more than 30 candidates running for the seven At-Large seats listened to the needs of Philadelphians.
Several candidates currently serving on the City Council wouldn’t be able to attend or had to leave early to deal with an ongoing water crisis.
With few exceptions, candidates committed to one of the most progressive agendas in recent memory.
The only notable exception to this general commitment was Republican Drew Murray, who regularly showed how little he understood the needs of Philadelphians or didn’t care because it didn’t affect him or the people in his circle. That said, he agreed with the majority on the stage in several places, such as fully funding mobile crisis units as one of the alternatives to sending police to address mental health crises and reforming the Land Bank.
While other candidates pledged to support an independent oversight review board to reign in the human rights abuses in the Philadelphia prison system and support the residents of China Town in their concern over the desired 76ers stadium. To prioritize safe, affordable housing and fully support workers’ rights, many of these fundamental concerns of Philadelphians were just too much for the Republican to get behind.
Despite the insistence of some Mayoral candidates that the folks who organized this forum and others like it are somehow a “loud minority,” the facts say otherwise. AFAJP comprises 27 different organizations with constituents across Philadelphia’s many diverse communities, representing every aspect of working-class life in our city.
That the vast majority of candidates are getting behind AFAJP’s progressive agenda says a lot about the direction of our city. We have an opportunity in Philadelphia to show the country what a city can do with candidates that come from and care about the communities they serve and an agenda that centers the people. We can create a safe city that treats its citizens with dignity and respect, meets their needs, and prepares its children to meet their futures with hope and real possibility.
To get there, we must listen to the community to deal with the “crisis of leadership,” Alan Domb loves to point to from his former leadership position on City Council.
“The police stopped my nephew after turning onto my block, ordered the youths out of the vehicle, and to lay face down on the ground without any explanation,” said Tonya Bah of Free the Ballot. “Despite neighbors coming out of the house to film them, police were aggressive toward the compliant but terrified youths, their mother, and neighbors. The police didn’t make an arrest or give a reason for the stop.”
An experience too many Philadelphians in Poor and working-class communities have had as victims, witnesses, or both, yet some candidates for elected office want to put more police on our streets without explaining how they intend to change this dynamic.
AFAJP envisions a system that tackles the root causes of crime instead of perpetuating the last half-century’s failed practices of incarceration and over-policing by expanding non-carceral solutions to gun violence, poverty alleviation, education, and job creation, among other proposed solutions.
Dominique Howell of Philly ADAPT talked about the housing crisis in Philadelphia, calling out the city’s over-prioritization of market-valued housing over the much-needed safe, affordable housing. The shortage of which is perpetuating Philadelphia’s homelessness crisis.
The previous administration’s use of Sweeps has failed everyone, from those on the street needing housing, jobs, and mental health or substance abuse treatment to the communities these unhoused folks reside in. It’s time for city leaders to take a different approach that prioritizes people over profits, and these candidates look prepared to move in that direction.
Candidates across Philadelphia’s many elected offices on the ballot in 2023 are bringing their lived experiences into the fight to make our city better for all Philadelphians. These candidates lead from the bottom up, from teachers to activists and leaders in the workers’ struggle; the progressive agenda advanced by the current pool of candidates seeks to leave no Philadelphian behind.
For more information about AFAJP’s 2023 People’s Platform for a Just Philadelphia, Click the Link
For more information about each candidate, click on their name below.
Democratic At-Large City Council Candidates
Luz Colon Naderah Griffin
Working Families Party At-Large City Council Candidates (Not on the Primary Ballot but will be on the General ballot)
Republican At-Large City Council Candidates