Jabari Jones (West is Best)
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Jabari Jones (West is Best)

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What is one life experience you have that voters should know about?

 I felt the passion to serve my community while I was very young. Throughout my career - I was countlessly told "It's not your time" and "Wait your turn". I didn't listen to those voices - I served on my first non-profit boards, the Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association and the Membership and Retention Committee at SBN when I was 18 and 19 years old respectively. I built an organization from scratch to represent small, diverse businesses in West Philadelphia that felt underrepresented when I was 21. Today, that organization is our district's largest business coalition, and even represents commercial corridors in the 2nd and 4th Councilmanic Districts. Since starting - I have helped hundreds of residents start new businesses and helped existing companies to grow, thrive and hire. And now, at 28 years old I'm running to be the youngest member of Philadelphia City Council in a race that the Philly Inquirer calls competitive. I believe discouraging young people undermines the positive changes they can make in our City. Once elected, I promise to warmly receive new ideas and fresh energy from young people motivated to make our City a better place.

What would be your top three policy priorities in office?

My number one priority is violent crime. We need to address the crime happening today before focusing exclusively on prevention. I will fight to invest in new technology that can help quickly identify perpetrators of serious violent crimes so they can be prosecuted. At the same time, I believe we must be empathetic to those that have served sentences and are coming out of prison. I support redirecting some anti-gun violence funding to fund direct services to help returning citizens - funding things like transitional housing, healthcare, and access to education that reduces the likelihood that they will feel trapped and additional crimes are the only option. My second priority is addressing the affordable housing crisis - which I feel can be done by streamlining requests for City owned property that include acceptable levels of permanent deed-restricted affordable housing. My third priority would be addressing poverty by creating a business environment where the norm is to create jobs paying $50K per year with medical benefits in industries with low barriers to entry. The City can use permit-fee waivers, tax subsidies, and incentives to create these jobs.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I know what it feels like to feel unheard and unrepresented. I identify with younger residents in the City who feel that there's no one in City Council that represents or relates to them. I'm moderate, practical, and a problem solver and I sympathize with people who don't care about politics, abstract debates or ideologies but just want basic problems in our City to get solved. As someone who has started an organization and a business from scratch, I know how hard it is to get support from the City and will work to bridge that divide. Lastly, I have actually seen and felt the consequences of legislation. I understand that legislation should be enacted very carefully, that its easy for well-intentioned policy to backfire, and that rushed or reckless policies can do more harm than good. I will consult experts on every side of an issue - those that agree with me and those that don't, to fully understand the effects of a bill before making it law. I commit to listen to learn and listen to understand.

How do you plan to work across ideological lines to achieve shared goals?

My agenda focuses on solving problems. I will commit not to get entangled in conversations or debates about abstract things that don't help residents. I will work across the aisle, with Democrats, Republicans or anyone else to get things done for my community. I will avoid the hypocrisy that too many people associate with our current political system.

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