City Council candidates get grilled about ‘real change in Philly’
Mayoral candidates are not the only ones under a microscope prior to election day. City Council candidates are about to get grilled about issues —all in the name of effecting real change in the city.
Led by Alison Perelman, as executive director, and TJ Hurst, as deputy director, the non-profit Philadelphia 3.0 was launched on Wednesday under the “mission to engage new audiences and bring new voices into the city's political discussions.”
Any City Council candidate — challenger or incumbent — seeking its support must submit a questionnaire developed by the group centered on important local issues. Then each of them will meet with an endorsement committee to discuss the qualities they would bring to City Council.
“The group wants answers from council candidates. Just don't ask where the nonprofit's money is coming from,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Chris Brennan. Donors for the organization will be kept anonymous, Brennan reported.
Philadelphia 3.0 describes itself as a civically minded Philadelphians who care about the city. “Lots of things are changing in our city — City Council hasn’t been one of them. In the last 20 years, four council seats have been occupied by a single person, nine council seats have been occupied by two people and four council seats have been occupied by three people,” states the organization in its website.
The endorsement committee is comprised of seven members including Bridgett Daniel, vice president of Wilco Electronics Systems; Cynthia Figueroa, CEO of Congreso de Latinos Unidos; Dr. Beatriz Garces, founder of Garces Foundation; Christine Jacobs, former senior vice president of Plant Operations at NRG Energy, and Dr. Keith Leaphart, CEO of Replica Global. Perelman and Hurst are also voting members.
It is still uncertain who Philadelphia 3.0 will support but the organization promises to soon announce its endorsements.
The questionnaire includes:
Should Council pass laws to increase funding for the Philadelphia School District?
Should Council change the city’s wage tax or business tax structure?
Should Council pass laws to change the wages paid to low-wage workers or the amount of taxes they pay?
How would the candidate help the city’s pension fund become solvent?
Should new Council members be limited to three terms in office?
Should Council close a “campaign finance loophole” that currently allows members to exceed fundraising limits for “non-campaign” or “pre-campaign” activities?
Should Council pass legislation to stagger elections so that at-large members are elected during the cycle when the City Controller and District Attorney run for office? At-large and District Council members currently run together in the same year as the mayor’s race.
Would Council candidates vote on development projects “on the merits,” rather than adhering to the “Councilmanic Prerogative,” an unwritten rule that says district Council members have the ultimate say on projects in their districts.
What should the city prioritize when improving its “outdated” technological infrastructure?