Ethelind Baylor- Candidate for City Council at Large
1. Tell us a personal story about yourself that informs your worldview, your politics, and your decision to run for City Council. It is often said that your parents are your first teacher, and in my case, this is true. My parents are good, upstanding people who worked hard and are contributors to society. My mother and father taught me that when faced with adversity, humans can exceed all expectations. We were encouraged to live simple lives rather than trying to keep up with the Joneses. We are believers, and as such, I tend to let my inner light shine. I was taught that we must treat others equally regardless of race, religions, sex, sexual orientation, or beliefs and that we have a responsibility to others. It is these lessons that often remind me of the story of ‘The Good Samaritan”.
Furthermore, I was taught to take care of nature, because nature, will, in turn, take care of us and provide all our needs. Lastly, it was my mother who taught me that we all have a civic responsibility to participate in every level of government. It is just not enough for me, or for a few of us to be involved. Instead, we much all be engaged, and we can accomplish this by ensuring that each of us brings others along.
I decided to engage in a run for City Council fully when I learned that Councilwoman Brown would not seek re-election. I am not looking to secure a job, as I already have one. Instead, I am running to do the work of the people. As a labor leader in the city of Philadelphia, I understand that we need more champions of worker’s rights, as well as human rights, and economic justice for all. We must do better by all Philadelphia residents to ensure that everyone can have a good life and live up to their fullest potential.
2. What is your opinion of capitalism as a political-economic system? Capitalism is apart of our democracy, however under capitalism as a political-economic system it creates income inequality that we have today and therefore Capitalism needs to be transformed for the good of the public.
How do your opinions and analysis influence your campaign and legislative priorities?
It is my opinion that a sustainable government must be rooted in sound ethics. In a capitalist economy, this can be accomplished through reasonable direct/indirect government, administrative, and entrepreneurial intervention. We must create long term socio-economic and environmental value. It is of the utmost importance that business models operate with a higher purpose to cultivate trust-based relationships with consumers, communities, employers, and suppliers.
I would seek business models, and entrepreneurs, who focus on long-term economic growth and social value to the community and commit to be stewards of the full spectrum of constituencies. The bottom line is through ethical capitalism we can build deep, trust-based relationships in the service of society as well as the bottom line.
3. What do “white supremacy” and “patriarchy” mean to you? I firmly believe that white supremacy is not only a mindset, but a systematic collection of policies and procedures that undoubtedly harms women and people of color. Additionally, white privilege is equally as harmful as white supremacy. The harm of white privilege and white supremacy and its harmful impact on minorities in America is quantifiable.
Today, the continued existence of patriarchy is just as harmful and prevalent as white supremacy. Although patriarchy is more likely to go unnoticed, it still creates quantifiable harm and damage. Consider, for example, how patriarchy shows up in the workplace; women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar, sexual harassment of women in the workplace, and how women are not treated equally to their male counterparts.
4. How do you see them operating in the City of Philadelphia and its government? I have worked for the City of Philadelphia for the past eighteen years, and I have witnessed people denied promotions, enter into compromising situations, leave city employment for career advancement, experience mental fatigue because of white privilege and patriarchy. Just take a look at these figures taken from the 2017 Philadelphia Workforce Diversity Profile Report: (source) https://www.phila.gov/media/20180108095159/2017DiversityReport.pdf
The Race and Ethnicity of Department Heads is as follows:
Black or African American, 26;
Hispanic or Latino, 4;
and Asian, 1.
Note: The race and ethnicity breakdown for department heads as of July 1, 2016 was as follows: Black or African American, 31%; White, 61%; Hispanic or Latino, 4%; Asian, 3%.
The Executive Exempt Workforce Consists of those employees who earn $90,000 or greater a year. The racial and ethnic breakdown is as follows: Black or African American, 146; White, 268; Hispanic or Latino, 23; and Asian, 18.
Note: The race and ethnicity breakdown for Executive Exempt Employees as of July 1, 2017 was as follows: Black or African American, 29.83%; White, 59.67%; Hispanic or Latino, 4.77%; Asian, 3.58%.
This racial breakdown of Department Heads and the executive exempt force is not representative of the racial breakdown within the city overall. More needs to be done to employ qualified individuals that reflect the groups of people that city workers serve daily. In addition to that, the City needs to invest in current workers to widen opportunities of growth and retention throughout all levels of government.
5. What policies, if any, would you enact in order to end them? Thanks to great policies being enacted over the recent years we have seen an increased number of women in top leadership positions and the number of minorities increase. Those identifying as Hispanic or Latino and Asian Americans are still under represented. To make continued progress, I think we need a champion throughout the City of Philadelphia. I would make a commitment to achieve racial equity, focus on the power and influence of Civil Service Commission and Department heads, and work in partnership with others. I believe this requires a leader who will take greater ownership and personal responsibility to ensure that all Philadelphians live and work in ways that are not subjective to subtle, blatant, or systematically prejudice. Betsy Hodges, Mayor of Minneapolis stated that, “Government has great opportunity to have an impact on the daily
lives of all people and the power to shape policies that reduce our inequities” I agree.
6. What do you think of the crisis facing Philadelphia schools? The crisis facing Philadelphia schools is inadequate funding, deficient facilities, outdated school material, lack of quality programming and afterschool activities.
What do you see as its root causes? In addition to the continued assault on teachers’ unions, I believe that it is the lack of funding that enables the continued academic segregation in Philadelphia schools. Poorer school district(s) unable to fundraise for much needed supplies or staffing also have a profound negative impact on the school. Too many of our children are stranded in schools that simply do not work, and if we do not fix the problem, we will suffer the consequences for decades to come. I have working knowledge of the consequences having worked in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons for over 13 years as a guard and 2 years as an GED educator.
What steps would you take? I recognize the crisis, and I believe it requires a commitment to providing equal access to high-quality education. I would advocate with our friends and leadership in the State House for additional funding. Additionally, we must continue to apply pressure on our elected leaders to publicly acknowledge the problem and commit to fixing it. It starts with demanding fair treatment for all children, especially students living in hellish conditions that, by conventional wisdom, make student achievement impossible.
7. Under what circumstances should a person be detained or incarcerated, if any? A person should be detained for questioning if they are justifiably suspected of committing a crime. A person should be incarcerated for conviction of a violent crime, and crimes that do harm to people and property. Does the current system meet this criterion? No. What does safety mean to you and what policies or programs would you pursue to achieve your vision? Safety means to me common sense solutions to complex problems. We should try to prevent and protect the public from dangers affecting the public safety such as crimes, or hazards. One thing I would like to pursue is Community Policing. The future of law enforcement rests in the hands of policy, the availability of resources, and the relationship between cops and the residents they vow to serve and protect. Community-based safety promotion has been nationally and internationally proven as an effective tool; to both promote safety and to improve communication and sustainability with the community.
8. What is the fundamental factor causing climate change? The fundamental factor causing climate change is the greenhouse effect. It has been scientifically proven that mankind is changing the natural greenhouse of our planet. The burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the amount of carbon dioxide, and therefore retaining heat in the atmosphere. This stronger greenhouse effect has warmed the oceans and is changing the climate throughout the planet. How should we address this? We should address climate change by establishing Less carbon emissions, and better modes of transportation through the city. Do you support a Green New Deal for Philadelphia and, if so, what does that mean to you and what will you do if elected to City Council? I do support the green New Deal for Philadelphia. If elected to City Council, I would propose more windmills like those positioned on the Lincoln Financial Field, increase solar panels where best suited, and weatherize older city-owned buildings. City Hall should be first to go green! We could also build city owned parking lots at major transportation arteries to decrease the congestion downtown. This New Deal is a step in the right direction for affordable and sustainable utilities and energy sources for Philadelphians.
9. Do you think Philadelphia is facing a housing crisis? If so, why? If not, why not? I do believe that Philadelphia is facing a housing crisis for several reasons. One: Philadelphia has a lot of older homes which means affordable homes are structurally sound but often low in quality due to very expensive maintenance and repairs. Without programs to invest in the old homes, it can lead to gentrification and displacement. Two: I believe we do not have a lot of “affordable housing” that is really “affordable” to the masses of people living in poverty in Philadelphia. Three: We do not have enough units that can house individuals with disabilities. What changes would you make to bring housing policy more in line with your vision? The changes I would bring to the housing policy that could be inline more with my vision as a City Councilwoman at Large:
1. Explore policy that would sustain affordable / accessible housing and green space for families earning 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) or less.
2. Advocate for zoning bonuses for developers to allocate a certain percentage of their projects to affordable housing.
3. Use of the land bank to create more affordable units for low income residents. Also, increase the allocation of funding to the housing trust fund for basic home repairs.
4. Explore different resolutions surrounding the 10-year tax abatement to increase funding to support the Housing Trust Fund.
5. Introduce public policy that facilitates equitable development without displacement.
PART II - YES OR NO QUESTIONS
1. Do you commit to opposing the privatization of all utilities in Philadelphia? YES [ X] NO [ ]
2. Do you commit to support and vote for the creation of a Philadelphia Public Bank? YES [ X] NO [ ]
3. Will you support using savings from closing the House of Corrections to invest in job training programs and opportunities for formerly incarcerated people, in an effort to combat mass incarceration? YES [X ] NO [ ]
4. Will you support a participatory study funded by the City to formulate a local Green New Deal energy plan to transition Philadelphia to a democratically controlled 100% renewable energy system by 2030, create unionized jobs, and center the decisions and needs of Philadelphia’s working class and communities of color? YES [ X] NO [ ]
5. Do you support a democratically elected school board? YES [X] NO [ ]
6. Will you commit to publicly funding and administering fully staffed libraries and recreation centers seven days a week? YES [ X] NO [ ]
7. Do you support rent control? YES [ X ] NO [ ] See Response
8. Will you commit that at least 50% of all City funds allocated to create or preserve housing, including but not limited to the Housing Trust Fund and subfunds, must go toward helping the poorest Philadelphians (30% or less of area median income)? YES [ X ] NO [ ]
9. Will you commit to introducing or sponsoring legislation that would establish a system of public financing for city campaigns that would create a fund that would provide matching public funds for money individual donors contribute to candidates? YES [ X ] NO [ ]
10. Do you support the creation of an overdose prevention site / supervised consumption site to help efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in our community? YES [ ] NO [X ] See Response.
11. Do you support completely ending the ten year tax abatement? YES [ ] NO [ X ] See Response.
12.Do you commit to opposing all new fossil fuel projects in Philadelphia by using all zoning and regulatory means at your disposal? YES [X ] NO [ ]
13. Will you support increasing funding of the Police Advisory Commission from $500K to $1.5M and giving it the power to subpoena, investigate and censure cases of police brutality and over-policing?
YES [ X ] NO [ ]
14. Will you publicly support a moratorium on all charter school expansion? YES [ X ] NO [ ]
15. Do you support the right to strike for public employees including teachers? YES [X ] NO [ ]
16. Will you enact a statutory right to counsel for any Philadelphian facing the loss of their home, be it foreclosure or eviction? YES [ X ] NO [ ]
17. Will you use all means at your disposal to support workers’ right to unionize?
YES [ X ] NO [ ]
PART III - ADDITIONAL CLARIFICATION
If there’s anything else our membership should know about you or if you feel the need to provide additional information about any of your above responses, do so here. Please keep your response to a total of 100 words or less.
Do you support rent control? Yes. I would want to host public forums to hear from advocates, landlords, tenants, and business owners. If introduced in the City would the State preempt such legislation? Only California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and the District of Columbia have rent control laws, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Massachusetts voters discarded rent control in 1994, but a similar effort in California failed in 2008. ~ Rent Control Measures Move Forward In Uncertain Political Environment Chicago Affordable Housing January 31, 2019 Brian Rogal, Bisnow Chicago: Read more at: https://www.bisnow.com/chicago/news/affordable-housing/rent-control-measures-move-forward-in-uncertain-political-environment-97278?utm_source=CopyShare&utm_medium=Browser
In addition, some economists from both the right and the left are in almost universal agreement that rent control makes housing problems worse in the long run. We would need to explore what this would do to the Philadelphia housing crisis we already have.
Do you support the creation of an overdose prevention site / supervised consumption site to help efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in our community? I do not support the creation of an overdose prevention site with public dollars. I think that we need to hear from other states who currently have safe injection sites. I read of the pros and cons, but it does not explain how safe injection sites decrease drug use. I need additional information to fully understand the legality, insurance cost and funding sources. I can not support supervised consumption sites at this time.
Do you support completely ending the ten-year tax abatement? I answered no because I am watching closely to the two bills introduced by Councilwoman Helen Gym to explore what is the best options to ending or modifying the 10-year tax abatement. We need a change and now we have options to engage in meaningful reform. In government we have a duty to explore the best options for the residents that live and work within the City.
Do you support the right to strike for public employees including teachers? The answer is yes but I am not sure if you all are aware but Public Safety employees by law cannot strike, and teachers regained the right to strike after the dissolution of the School Reform Commission.