It all started with that park…Who knew a playground could lead to a career of public service?
Needless to say, Burke Playground was in shambles. Anyone who dared enter quickly ran back out. Our continued requests to clean it went unnoticed. It wasn’t until we came together as a neighborhood and dedicated ourselves to a renovation that the City listened. As I worked the phone and stood at the copy machine making fliers, I began to realize that I had found my calling. That realization was confirmed as I stood side by side with my neighbors at the unveiling of the newly-paved, newly-equipped, and re-lit park. If you want to save your city, you have to pitch in yourself.
After witnessing the playground project unite our neighborhood, I worked with partner organizations (including many athletic teams) to host weekly cleanups. Because, there’s no point in committing to a project and spending folks hard-earned money if you’re just going to let it fall apart. As our cleanup groups grew, I began seeing the potential to address neighborhood problems beyond trash on the playground. We started voicing and seeking resolutions to community concerns ranging from broken streetlights to the effects of highway reconstruction. In 1998, I joined the Democratic City Committee to represent Ward 39B. I set my sights on higher offices in an effort to bring about the positive my neighbors and I desperately sought. In 2008, my neighbors elected me President of the Whitman Council. For 25 years, I served the cause of accountability and transparency in state government through my work in the Office of Pennsylvania’s Auditor General.
My experiences as a community organizer, public servant, husband and father have taught me that strong families and engaged neighborhoods are the key to Philadelphia’s future. As the city grows and evolves, I truly believe that coming together block by block and group by group to address our grievances and celebrate our successes is crucial for a sustainable future.
Since taking office, I’ve done my best to show my commitment to this belief by immersing myself in efforts like the move toward revitalizing the Reading Viaduct and the planning work of the Central Delaware Advisory Group, to the ongoing growth and challenges of the East Passyunk Business Improvement District, which has become one of the East Coast’s most prominent emerging hotspots for living, dining and nightlife.
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