Before I was a community organizer, I worked in education and social services for five years in Fairhill, Kensington, and Hunting Park. This included running a parenting education program, whose purpose was to provide support to parents whose children were taken away by the Department of Human Services. I saw how these parents had effectively been criminalized for the conditions they found themselves in—poverty, lack of access to good jobs, and a broken social safety net. For me, this work was personal. As a young father, I’ve helped raise my daughter largely remotely. For long stretches, I’ve had to build a relationship with her over camera. As a parent advocate , I knew the pain that I’d always felt being distant from my daughter was nothing compared to the pain and trauma I saw in parents’ faces when they were forced to join my program. That’s when I knew the system needed to change. Up to that point, I wanted to help my community. But that experience made me realize I had to fight injustice.
1. Community safety: In order to make our communities truly safe, we need a coordinated strategy that brings every community voice to the table. This starts with bringing in more resources via our city budget, including investments in housing and treatment access; street outreach workers; targeted violence intervention programs; non-police mobile crisis response units; and paid job opportunities for at-risk young people.
2. Affordable housing: Philadelphia is facing a housing crisis. Our city’s top priority should be developing new units of affordable housing. This includes passing stricter inclusionary zoning requirements; leveraging Land Bank properties for affordable housing; and developing a standard for Community Benefits Agreements in new developments.
3. Economic opportunity: Working people deserve good union jobs and a government that truly supports us. This includes robust job training and placement programs; reinvestment in education and career training; and accountability for employers to grow family-sustaining, union jobs accessible to local residents.
I’ve spent over a decade in the 7th District as an educator, social worker, and community organizer. I’ve dedicated my life to supporting my people to take power into our own hands. As Councilmember, I will do the same. I believe that building comprehensive policy coalitions that bring together community leaders and stakeholders is what’s needed to address the scale of the humanitarian crisis that our communities face in the 7th. For far too long, our communities have been abandoned by City government. We need a bottom-up, collective strategy to address public safety, affordable housing, and opportunities for our young people to learn and grow. As an organizer in Kensington, I realized just how much we need allies within our city government willing to fight with us. This moved me to join Councilmember Helen Gym as Outreach Director. At City Hall, I helped pass landmark legislation, working hand-in-hand with unions and community organizations. I saw how much our City budget is a reflection of our moral priorities. Most importantly, I saw policymaking as a place to build community power.
As Councilmember, I view my role as cultivating community-based coalitions that can drive the policymaking process. I believe that community members and stakeholders who are most impacted by a given issue should lead the charge in creating solutions. Only by bringing these voices to the table—across experiences and ideologies—can we build lasting change. This kind of coalition-building has been my calling as a community organizer and Council staffer. In 2017, Kensington Health Sciences Academy was under threat of being added to the School District’s “turnaround” list—which could have led all staff to lose their jobs and be forced out of the community. I led a months-long campaign with teachers and students that ultimately saved the school. In 2022, I helped organize the push for more money for the Free Library System to fund facilities and staff. I worked with groups ranging from AFSCME DC 47 and DC 33 to Friends of the Library and other advocates based in Black and Brown communities. Together, we fought and won an increase of $10 million in the budget. This is the kind of clear political leadership we need to win real investments in the hardest-hit communities.