Díaz makes it official
With praise between shouts of Boricua! and Pa’ lante! Judge Nelson Díaz ended months of speculation and waiting, and made his candidacy for mayor of Philadelphia official, presenting an agenda focused on reforming the city’s school system and investing in jobs and small businesses.
Surrounded by his family, Latino leaders and supporters, Díaz kicked off his campaign at Tierra Colombiana restaurant, a traditional meet and greet place for Latinos in North Philly.
“It is a crime that in this great city over 26 percent of our families live in poverty. A well-funded public education system is the first step on the ladder into the middle-class,” Díaz said.
"Our schools are a story of two extremes. While we have some of the best universities in the world, our public school buildings, half of which were built before World War II, are crumbling. We train this country’s best doctors — and yet our children lack access to pre-K and afterschool programs. Our teachers are working harder than ever and receiving the lowest level of support they’ve ever seen,” he added.
In terms of the School Reform Commission (SRC) he said that in 13 years he hasn’t seen “any reforms.”
“The first day in office I will meet with the governor and with the president of City Council to sit down and figure how we can create a good school system instead of a patronage school system,” Díaz said.
The candidate described his life experience as a story of firsts. The first Puerto Rican graduate from Temple law, one of the first Latinos to serve in the White House, the first Latino elected as a judge in Pennsylvania.
He describes himself as “very pro-labor. My parents were both union workers, my ability to move out of poverty came from what I learned from them. I think the fallacy of this past government is not sitting down with the labor leaders and negotiating with them,” Díaz said. “Ii is important for the mayor to have a strong relationship to make our city work better.”
An issue raised at the press conference is the division within the Latino community and the development of a Puerto Rican agenda vs. a Latino agenda.
“I think you are absolutely wrong,” he said. “The issue is that Latinos want a leader that is going to give them the opportunity to participate in the economic development and education — they will take whoever. If the person is pink, they will take them as long as they provide for them a good education and a quality opportunity to succeed,” Díaz said.
“I have worked with every community in the city and if you want to be divisive that is up to you, but we have to begin to come together as Philadelphians as a community,” he said in conclusion.