Moses Santana, ‘Kensington Veteran,’ launches campaign to rep 7th District in City Council
Santana threw in his bid for District 7, currently helmed by Councilmember Quetcy Lozada, who secured endorsements ahead of the November Special Elections.
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Moses Santana, who said he joined the U.S. army to flee from drugs, violence, and poverty in Kensington, recently threw in his hat in the ring for Philly’s 7th District of City Council on Saturday, Jan. 21.
Santana, a retired combat veteran and Kensington native, announced his campaign in McPherson Square Park, where he lambasted previous leadership while pledging to hold City Council accountable to District 7.
“I am running for the 7th district city council because now we know that it has been poor leadership that has exploited the lack of political education in this community. They prided themselves on withholding information and resources to discourage our voters from participating,” Santana said in his fiery speech.
Citing “the many businesses under the [Market-Frankford line] had closed, businesses that had been around since the 70s and were owned by community members,” Santana maintained that abandonment plunged the 7th District into poverty.
“I will hold a fire to the feet of city hall to ensure that the needs of [the] people of the 7th district are met.”
Santana, currently an outsider from the party, did not spare an instant within his speech to express dismay at the treatment Kensington has received, which he attributed to “poor leadership,” though he didn’t specify or name an elected official.
Disappointed at how Kensington has progressed over the last 13 years, Santana challenges Quetcy Lozada — who obtained party endorsements in September — and was Maria Quiñones Sánchez’s protégé throughout her 14-year tenure.
Santana is the second candidate to emerge for the District 7 seat next to James Whitehead, a ward leader and the Republican challenger on the ticket.
At 13, Santana said, he’d already started to notice his neighborhood was not akin to other districts in Philly, a phenomenon he attributed to “divestment and dealing with the aftermath of generational issues that came from redlining, police brutality, and the decrease in jobs.”
His family, according to his remarks, struggled to put food on the table.
“Another poor Puerto Rican kid from Kensington,” he said of his experience.
Yearning to escape what felt like an inevitable destiny, Santana enlisted in the army at 17, where he served for 13 years and completed three combat tours.
“The days of Kensington, Harrowgate, and Fairhill getting scraps from the city are over,” Santana, who, after 13 years of deployment, did not recognize the Kensington he grew up in when he returned.
Still, Santana said, he thinks fondly of his early Kensington memories.
“As a kid, I loved running through Kelly’s Korner, a place [where] you could get anything from magic cards to exotic fish, from walking the halls of Shepard school and graduating from Edison, playing football in McVeigh. Being trained to box by Mr. Wip at Harrowgate boxing club.”
All eyes are on Kensington
Despite the limited number of candidates in the District 7 pool, many at-Large and mayoral hopefuls have centered their public safety policy platforms on Kensington — pointing toward the Kensington-Allegheny intersection — where there is a concentration of open-air drug markets and shooting incidents.
Years and millions in funds later, Kensington residents continue to question what strategies are tenable enough to restore tranquility in the area.
And candidates wrestle with strategy and wonder whether continued, heightened policing in the area is substantive enough.
Allan Domb, a Center City real estate magnate, has suggested declaring a statewide emergency to direct state and federal funds toward revitalizing the region.
Helen Gym, former at-Large Councilwoman and progressive, said she would declare a state of emergency on day one in office and direct multivariate resources toward the neighborhoods reeling with higher levels of gun violence.
Former Council Majority Leader and District 9 Councilwoman Cherelle Parker told AL DÍA she would reach into every tool of government to address the crisis, but did not specify if she’d enact a state of emergency at the time.
Retired Judge James DeLeon is confident that a Local Incident Management System, which hyper-localizes crime and places community advocates or coaches — as well as direct funding straight to community organizations, could mend Kensington.
Quiñones Sánchez, who formerly represented District 7, has repeatedly said that Kensington is the product of disinvestment, citing poverty as the root of the violence that has sprung from it.
Her public safety plan, outlined on her website, involves all government agencies addressing specific needs within the neighborhood with a common agenda but did not specify whether she would declare a state of emergency.