Friday, February 26, 2010

Philly Street Fight: Philadelphia Politics at it's Finest

There has been much talk throughout the City of Philadelphia about the upcoming race for State Representative of the 190th Legislative District. Freshman, incumbent Rep Vanessa Lowery Brown, has brought fresh, new, constituent-services-oriented flavor to this seat, one that constituents say has not existed for years.

Philly has been quick to push into the spotlight the odd family feud that seems to be brewing as a result of the opponents who challenge Representative Brown’s House seat. Sharif Street, son of former Philly Mayor, John Street and Thomas Blackwell, son of the late US Rep Lucien Blackwell and stepson of powerful City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who by the way has put her support behind Sharif Street and NOT her stepson. Sounds like Representative Brown, who is new to the political game, has a tough race ahead right? Well maybe….But let us consider the facts.

Thomas Blackwell who held the house seat for one term prior to Brown being elected, was disqualified from the race for his re-election because of forged signatures on his petitions. Rep Brown went on to win that seat. Sharif Street, who lost a race for City Council at large a few years ago, recently moved into the district specifically to run for this house seat. Which raises the question, is he running because he wants to help the people in his community, or does he just want to get elected somewhere? As all 3 candidates hustle for petition signatures, the tensions rise on the streets as community leaders, business owners and other elected officials choose sides. But which candidate is actually worthy of representing their district in Harrisburg?

The Urban Politico strongly put its support behind State Rep Vanessa Brown, who has a proven track record of fighting for people, way before she was elected into political office. This single mother of a teenage son is a survivor of domestic violence, and a brief stint of homelessness, only to rise up as a block captain and committee person. She has fought hard for women’s issues, homelessness and poverty within her community and overcome tremendous odds to become the first woman to represent the 190th Legislative District. She has stated that her reason for running for office was that she was tired of having doors closed in her face and she wanted to do what she could to make a difference in people’s lives who were dealing with the same issues she had struggled to overcome.

Rep Brown fought hard during the PA Budget impasse to make sure those recipients of the child care subsidy did not have to choose between quitting work to watch their kids or going broke to pay for child care. Brown recently passed a resolution through the house that would investigate the conditions of Dental Care for the poor and disabled. The investigation would produce information that would be used as a model to determine what kinds of legislation should be developed in order to make these conditions better for the targeted constituency. Brown recently held a committee hearing on Energy & Heat, as a result of the lack of availability of energy assistance and heating grants due to the budget impasse. She was able to bring utility agencies, community leaders and constituents to the table to discuss these matters and also discuss how to keep Philadelphians warm this year, despite the down economy.

This race will certainly be an interesting one.
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