Reclaim Philadelphia Steering Committee candidate recommendations

To advance the people’s agenda on mass liberation, workers’ rights, gender justice, and community control over development, Reclaim Philadelphia’s Steering Committee believes we must elect candidates with a history of political integrity, who will seek the backing of social movements and who will be fearless in fighting for their values. We believe the City Council candidates we are putting forward for endorsement have shown, through their questionnaire responses and their work that they deserve the support of Reclaim Philadelphia’s membership.

This year, Reclaim Philadelphia’s Steering Committee has decided to break our endorsement process into two rounds. Our Steering Committee currently plans to recommend a second round of candidates for the consideration of our membership in March to complete our full slate for Council and for other races!

Our Steering Committee, organizers and electoral leaders reviewed all questionnaire responses. We also met with many candidates in person to ask probing questions about their values, vision for the world, political priorities and strategy.

After this extensive process, Steering Committee is now recommending that our membership vote to endorse Councilperson Helen Gym and Erika Almiron for City Council At-Large. The Steering Committee is also recommending that our membership vote to endorse Tonya Bah for the 8th Council District.

First round membership voting will take place from Saturday February 9th to February 16th.

Helen Gym

Helen Gym was elected to City Council in 2015 as a vitally respected organizer in the fight for public education. She was also the first Asian American woman elected to Philadelphia’s City Council. In her initial work, Gym quickly proved herself to be the most progressive member of Council. She established a legal defense fund for tenants facing eviction and tirelessly fought to increase municipal contributions to School District of Philadelphia. Her crowning achievement as a legislator so far was authoring and passing the “Fair Workweek” bill in 2018, which establishes predictive scheduling and pay for the city’s thousands of service workers—a landmark for Philadelphia’s labor movement, and the most progressive bill of its kind in any city. Reclaim Philadelphia is proud to have worked with her to pass this “Fair Workweek” bill. She is a consistent advocate for the city’s most vulnerable, and an ally of social movements. Read her questionnaire responses to see more about why we are excited to re-elect her to City Council to further the work we have begun together.

Erika Almirón

Erika Almirón has been a central figure in the immigrants rights movement in Philadelphia and has a proven record of organizing for real change. As executive director of Juntos, she leads an organization that Reclaim Philadelphia has regularly partnered with., including the “Know Your Rights” immigrant justice canvassing campaign and the campaign to end ICE’s access to our courts’ PARS database. Steering Committee is thrilled about her candidacy and its potential to excite progressive energy, along with the potential for such an accomplished immigration rights organizer to be part of City Council. She has also been a collaborator with our education justice work in the Our City, Our Schools Coalition informed by her past experience as an organizer with Philadelphia Student Union, and her questionnaire responses speak to her creativity, care and urgency in approaching solutions to systemic city problems. We strongly recommend that Erika Almirón be a primary consideration for our city council slate.

Tonya Bah

Tonya Bah has been a leader with Reclaim Philadelphia, working tirelessly with us on our Education Task Force, every since she met our founders working as a delegate for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary. She has been a key and consistent figure in local education and environmental justice organizing, and her leadership has been critical to Reclaim’s successes with the Our City, Our Schools Coalition. She was a leader in the victorious fight to dismantle the racist School Reform Commission. Her progressive views are made clear through her questionnaire answers, which go beyond promoting vague policy to recognizing the root causes of poverty and injustice in the city. Her commitment to winning this race and to governing the 8th district by prioritizing people and planet over profit are clear. As Councilperson of the 8th District, Tonya Bah will boldly and courageously lead the city in pursuit of transformative change.

If there are candidates you’re particularly excited about that are not being recommended for the first round of endorsements, please indicate that on your ballot—the Steering Committee will include these responses in their deliberations for the second round of endorsements.

Join us at our Citywide Meeting with Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 2pm at The Friends Center (1501 Cherry Street) to vote on whether or not Reclaim Philadelphia should endorse these candidates.

Kelly Morton