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Helen Gym

Candidate for Mayor

Campaign website

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

I'm a tough Philly mom who's had to take on some of Philadelphia's toughest challenges - a state takeover of the entire school district when my oldest daughter was about to enter kindergarten, state run agencies like the Philadelphia Parking Authority that failed to pay its fair share to schools, and taking on bullying, harassment and violence at a local high school that had been on the state's "most dangerous" list. I wasn't going to sit back while people with the power to make change made too many excuses about why people had to live with so much dysfunction and harm. I organized a coalition to push back against that state takeover and beat back a proposal to turn us over to a for-profit company. I organized parents who hounded the Parking Authority from boardrooms to Harrisburg until they started paying millions of dollars to our schools. I organized students and community leaders to end the violence and turn around that high school in less than two years. I ran for elected office to prove that things don't actually have to be this way and that Philadelphians wanted a new politics for how people should live, how children should grow, and how our city could rise.

What would be your top three policy priorities in office?

The most desirable city is the most livable city, and that means a focus on safety and health, education, and economic prosperity through residential growth. On Day One I will issue a state of emergency and coordinate all our agencies (School District, SEPTA, District Attorney, sheriff, and state + federal law enforcement) in an all hands on deck effort to reduce gun violence and improve the lives and well-being of residents. In communities most impacted by violence, I will reorganize our police department to deploy more officers on foot and bike patrol, ensure that 911 response times improve, and expand the mental health crisis response units I helped pilot on Council. On education, I will hold myself accountable to growing the school district population after years of decline with a focus on literacy, after school and summer programming, and modernizing school facilities so every school is a promise to a family that their children are safe and invested in. And I am here to grow our city and its businesses by making sure this is a livable city, with a focus on core city services for a clean and green Philadelphia, safe streets and responsive government.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I have an unparalleled track record proven over 30 years of galvanizing and inspiring a city to change, even when I had no formal title or political power. As a Councilmember, I pushed through victories on housing, education, and labor rights that became a model for the nation in less than two terms. I showed that it's not actually about sitting in office for years on end or being a wealthy CEO, you have to have a relentless spirit to get things done. I am also the only candidate with a vision to transform our city schools. I do not believe we get out of the cycle of violence unless we significantly address our education crisis. Every past Mayor before me has turned his back or failed to fulfill the promise of our schools. I’m the only Mayoral candidate who will take on full responsibility for our kids. A potentially new funding formula means Philly needs a mayor who knows what to do with investment and how to leverage more. Lower Merion just approved $140M for a brand new middle school while our kids lack air conditioning and playgrounds. I won't leave a generation behind. I’m taking on that challenge with the track record to prove it.

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

I lead with mission-driven values, I attract and hire brilliant and dedicated people, and I’m focused on what it takes to get things done—that’s means being reliable and responsive and pragmatic enough to find the right compromises and solutions to problems. Ideology isn't fixed. When we prove we can fix big problems, everyone wants to be part of that work. That's how I was able to reverse the tide on school closings and kickstarted a $500 million infrastructure campaign that brought clean water, air conditioning and lead, asbestos and mold removal to schoolkids. It's how I took our city's eviction crisis head-on, and in less than five years, we built the most successful eviction prevention program in the nation, which slashed evictions by two-thirds, kept tens of thousands of people housed, distributed $250 million in rent assistance to landlords, and is now copied in 180 cities. Everything I do seeks to grow our capacity and appetite to do more, to leverage more investment and more pride in our ability to turn the tide and prove Philadelphia can lead.

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