What Philly wants? Almost nine out of 10 residents want reduced crime, per new voter survey from Lenfest’s Every Voice, Every Vote
Crime topped the issues of the 2023 mayoral campaign, followed by education, the economy and homelessness.
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On March 14, 2023, the Lenfest Institute’s Every Voice, Every Vote initiative for this year’s Philly Mayoral campaign released the results of the survey — “What Philly Wants: The Every Voice, Every Vote Survey of Philadelphia Voters” — which revealed that almost nine out of 10 Philadelphia residents surveyed (89%) believe crime is the most pressing issue for the city’s mayoral candidates and other elected officials to address.
Crime, specifically violent crime, has seen a stark rise since the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2021 was the most violent in terms of number of homicides in Philly’s recorded history on the matter. It ended with 562 homicides, and 2022, while ending with less, still broke 500 murders and ended with 516.
On top of that, the victims of homicides and shootings have also gotten younger in the last three years, as 212 kids younger than 18 were victims of gun violence in 2021 and 217 were victims in 2022, per data from the Philadelphia City Controller’s gun violence database. This year, just over three months in, the number of shooting victims under 18 is at 27. This school year, which also includes the Fall of 2022, 17 students have been killed across the district.
As for solutions, the 1,247 residents that completed the survey identified both increased mental health support (87%) and improving the relationship between the police and communities (86%) as the most popular. Fifty-five percent said they wanted increased funding for the police to combat the issue.
Of the mayoral candidates interviewed by AL DÍA thus far, all have also identified public safety and gun violence as their number one concerns. The following is how those interviewed so far have responded in order of appearance at the AL DÍA office.
Judge James DeLeon relied on his Local Incident Management System (LIMS) to curb gun violence and boost public safety. It would involve the courts more in the process of rehabilitation and give offenders resources to turn their lives around and stop engaging in illegal activities.
In his conversation with AL DÍA, Derek Green tied the gun violence and public safety issue into a bigger issue of poverty in Philadelphia. He spoke of providing more support to local small businesses — that create jobs in neighborhoods — as one solution, along with bringing back more after school programs to keep youth occupied and off the streets.
Cherelle Parker told AL DÍA of her community policing plan that would bring 300 new uniformed police officers to be deployed city wide “walking the beat” and making communities feel safer. She also emphasized a no tolerance policy for any “misuse or abuse” from police officers.
David Oh laid out a plan that started with getting officers more face time with residents in the most-affected communities, and then enforcing the law that’s on the books. He also mentioned focused deterrence as a viable strategy, which involves targeting those committing the violence in communities and offering them a way out or definite jail time.
Rebecca Rhynhart said she would declare an emergency on day one of her administration to allow for the direct coordination of all of the city’s departments towards reducing gun violence. She said she would also implement intervention strategies that succeeded in other cities and they involve looking at gun violence as a public health crisis, targeting the violent offenders and getting them help.
In his own visit to AL DÍA, Allan Domb also said he would declare a state of emergency on day one of his administration for both gun violence and the opioid crisis. He also talked about his 10-point plan to address public safety and involves everything from restructuring aspects of the police department to bringing in higher levels of law enforcement to deal with crisis areas.
The latest candidate to visit AL DÍA was Helen Gym, who also spoke about the importance of organizing every department under the purview of the mayor to focus on reducing gun violence and making the city safer. She also discussed civilianization as a strategy to fix police staffing issues while also reimagining what it could do in its role.
Maria Quiñones-Sánchez released a comprehensive public safety plan on her campaign website that emphasizes more CCTV cameras being added to violent areas, street cleaning and more street lights to increase the feeling of safety. Her plan also involves expanded CLIP, heavier scrutiny of police funding, Licenses and Inspection, and the more.
Jeff Brown has public safety as his number two priority on the list of issues on his campaign website. He emphasizes getting more funds to community organizations and nonprofits so they can expand their services and develop neighborhoods economically to curb violence. On the police, he stressed solving staffing issues as his priority.
Beyond crime, education, jobs and the economy, homelessness, affordable housing, opioids and city services were also issues that more than 50% of those surveyed said were pertinent to the 2023 mayoral campaign.
Given all the issues, the survey also found that 65% of Philadelphians don’t think the city is on the right track, and actual engagement is low despite 85% of respondents believing they were registered to vote. Of that percent, only 45% knew who their district councilmember was.
Initiatives like Every Voice, Every Vote are out to change that in 2023. The next step for the survey data is for Pew Charitable Trusts to offer an analysis, which is due out in April, just one month from a fateful primary for Philly.
This content is a part of Every Voice, Every Vote, a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, Peter and Judy Leone, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and the Wyncote Foundation, among others. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit www.every voice-every vote.org. Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.