U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive presidential hopeful aiming to push her party to the left, on Monday endorsed a Philadelphia City Council candidate with similar aims: Kendra Brooks.
A lifelong Democrat running under the Working Families Party banner, Brooks is hoping to win one of the two City Council at-large seats that are reserved by Home Rule Charter for candidates outside the leading party and which have always been held by Republicans.
ON MONDAY, PHILADELPHIA City Council Member Helen Gym, a Democrat, endorsed Kendra Brooks, who is backed by the progressive Working Families Party in her campaign for City Council. The local Democratic Party was incensed by the endorsement, which Bob Brady, chair of the Democratic City Committee, said was “stupid,” reasoning that it would hurt Democrats by taking votes away from their slate of candidates.
Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym is endorsing a minor-party candidate on November’s election, riling some of her fellow Democrats.
Gym is putting her support behind Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks, with whom she has worked for years.
It all begins with an idea.Sitting in the corner of Fergie’s Pub in Center City, Philadelphia, Kendra Brooks wishes she could stay in the corner. She’s an introvert, she says, and the room is packed with guests who came to see her—a mother of four, grandmother of three, and a public education organizer and activist running for City Council.
Former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a top Pennsylvania surrogate for President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection bid, is trying to combine the thing he is best known for — fierce opposition to undocumented immigration — with something his political brand is not known for — fund-raising.
Independents make up just 12% of voters in Philadelphia. But this year, they’re signing up in droves. More than a quarter of new registrations since the start of this year have been neither Dem or Republican, according to the Inquirer, but independent. That poses a problem for the other parties in the upcoming November election.
Ten minor-party candidates are angling to win City Council seats in the general election.
Candidates from five minor parties filed their nomination petitions with the Board of Elections by Thursday’s deadline to get on the ballot, according to the unofficial tally.
The moment the dust settled on the municipal primary election this spring, all fulltime State-level politicians swung into fulltime planning for 2020, which will be their turn onstage.
In a test of how far progressive organizing in Philadelphia has come, several liberal outsiders have launched independent campaigns aimed at seizing two City Council seats that are reserved for minor-party or unaffiliated candidates and have been held by Republicans for nearly 70 years.
“The health of our schools is paramount,” said community organizer Kendra Brooks. “Not only the physical health of our schools, but the mental and emotional health of our students. Our children face trauma at an alarming rate.”
Brooks, who has children at Steele Elementary and Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber, said the community connector position was crucial to “build a bridge. … The ultimate goal is to improve the success of the students, and the best way to do that is by supporting the entire family.”
A group of activists wants Allan Domb out of City Council. They say he shouldn’t be making decisions about development policy because of his lucrative second job as one of Center City’s largest property owners and top condo Realtors.
“We call it Stand Up Nicetown because we pick one of the busiest corners in our neighborhood and just stood out there and talked to people and brought resources around,” Kendra Brooks said. “Being a good father, resources for young men and mentorship.”
But it’s hard to combat the violence when there’s no funding for grassroots organizations.
“It’s completely self-funded,” Brooks said. “Each one of our organizations, each one of our members — we fund all of our meetings, all our programming is out of pocket.”
“Kids saw that. Kids were outside,” said Kendra Brooks, a mother and founder of Stand Up Nicetown. In the aftermath of the incident, she tried to secure a meeting space to host a community discussion, but without funds to back up the reservation, it took nearly a week to find a good spot.
To make a difference, Brooks needs more resources. And now she might actually get them, thanks to a new initiative from Philly’s Office of Violence Prevention.
At this point, the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University are the only Ivy League schools that don’t contribute PILOTs. That should change, said Kendra Brooks, an activist with the 215 People’s Alliance.
“We are the poorest city in the country, so pathways out of poverty are created through education and opportunity,” Brooks said. “Penn should pay their fair share to make sure kids have that pathway.”
“[The report] sheds light on the impact that these abatements have on starving our schools and our city of the public resources and services we need,” said Kendra Brooks, an organizer with the coalition. “We must push City Council and the mayor’s office to end these unjust tax abatements for luxury developers and provide that money to teachers, nurses, janitors and students to teach, learn and thrive in our city.”
The coalition is collecting petition signatures to support ending the abatement. Members of the coalition delivered copies of the report to Council members on Nov. 15. They plan further visits to Council offices on Nov. 29, Dec. 6, and Dec. 13.
Gun violence in Nicetown has gotten so bad, said resident Kendra Brooks, that each morning, she worries about sending her 10-year-old daughter off to school.
“Over the summer, my kids buried a friend every other week,” she told Billy Penn. “They’re waking me up every other week saying such-and-such got shot.”
Flashpoint: Fixing Philly's toxic schools, controller Rebecca Rhynhart's bombshell audits and youth healers of PEC
This week, the district released its fourth report on the progress of the clean-up. Guests for this debate include Lee Whack, spokesman for the School District of Philadelphia; Jerry Roseman, director of Environmental Science and Occupational Safety and Heath for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund and Union; Lisa Haver, co-founder of Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools; and Kendra Brooks, coordinator of Our City, Our Schools and an active school district parent.