What do 4 former metropolis councilmembers, a former metropolis controller, a former municipal choose, and a neighborhood grocery retailer magnate have in widespread? They’re all Democratic contenders for Philadelphia mayor in 2023.
Add one other title to that checklist: Helen Health club has entered the chat.
A member of Metropolis Council since 2016 who rode a wave of recognition to an at-large seat, Health club on Wednesday afternoon introduced her candidacy for mayor, following her Tuesday morning resignation from council. A run for mayor has lengthy been anticipated from the previous trainer and activist, who used her time as a lawmaker to deal with points like schooling, housing, and labor.
“Thanks to each single Philadelphian who confirmed up and proved that we will construct town that we really deserve,” Health club mentioned in her message after resigning from Metropolis Council the day prior. “No matter occurs subsequent, know this: I will likely be proper alongside all of you combating to ensure that Philadelphia is a safer, more healthy, extra affluent, vibrant, and inventive place for all of us.”
Right here’s what to find out about Health club, her rise to energy, and the way she’s made a reputation for herself as one among Philadelphia’s progressive customary bearers.
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A path to energy via schooling and improvement activism
Health club, now 54 years previous, was the primary Asian American lady ever elected to Philadelphia Metropolis Council.
Born in Seattle and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Health club obtained her bachelors and masters levels on the College of Pennsylvania. After commencement she labored as a enterprise reporter in Ohio, and as a trainer.
Earlier than she joined metropolis authorities, Health club was greatest recognized for talking out in opposition to it. In 2013, a Philly Magazine profile dubbed her “Philadelphia’s preeminent public agitator,” a reference to her activism on schooling and Asian American points within the metropolis.
Health club’s work with Asian People United, of which she was a board member, included efficiently organizing protests to cease proposed developments in Chinatown — in 2000, a baseball stadium, and in 2008, a on line casino — neither of which have been constructed.
In 2006, she cofounded Mother and father United for Public Schooling, a company centered on “partaking mother and father with the price range course of with a purpose to guarantee a baseline stage of assets, providers, [and] staffing” in metropolis faculties, per the org’s web site.
Health club additionally cofounded People Arts-Cultural Treasures Constitution College (FACTS), a Chinatown college largely designed to serve Asian American and Asian immigrant college students.
Her citywide recognition has been slowly constructing. Health club introduced her run for a primary time period in Council in February 2015, with an endorsement from the Philadelphia Federation of Lecturers. After coming in fifth within the at-large race within the Democratic main — and solely narrowly qualifying for the overall — she got here in first in November, however solely by 750 votes.
By the point of her re-election marketing campaign in 2019, nevertheless, Health club’s recognition had surged. She garnered extra main votes than every other candidate for Metropolis Council for the reason that Eighties, profitable all however 10 of Philly’s 66 wards in a discipline of 28 Democrats.
Now, Health club has resigned her seat with slightly over a yr left in her time period. Together with her newest marketing campaign announcement, she’s getting into a crowded discipline, with a number of challengers vying for the place.
A legislative file that outlines her platform
On Metropolis Council, Health club was recognized for being a progressive voice on points like housing, schooling, youth points, and employee’s rights.
Throughout her first time period, she launched a “Honest Workweek” invoice that launched new tasks for big chains, like compensating for last-minute schedule modifications and notifying workers of obtainable shifts that would earn them more cash.
In 2019, she launched “Proper to Counsel” laws that gives authorized illustration to tenants with low incomes dealing with eviction. She additionally spearheaded Philadelphia’s Eviction Diversion Program throughout the pandemic, which requires landlords to fulfill with their tenants and a skilled mediator earlier than they will file for an eviction, and has led to a diminished variety of landlord-tenant disputes going to courtroom.
Her education-related work on Council has included pushing for clear consuming water in faculties, working with the College District of Philadelphia to position a nurse in each Philly public college, and probing the Philadelphia Parking Authority on whether or not it’s been assembly its obligation to fund the native college system.
Health club has additionally continued her activism streak whereas in workplace, prompting criticism from some over “grandstanding” relatively than prioritizing lawmaking. She acquired arrested for trespassing in Harrisburg final yr throughout a protest over college funding. She has rallied in help of higher union contracts, in help of abortion rights, and in opposition to former Trump’s immigration ban on individuals from predominantly Muslim nations. She was additionally a proponent in 2017 for the elimination of town’s Frank Rizzo statue (one thing that finally ended up taking place amid racial justice protests in June 2020).
Her current legislative work has included a invoice to loosen town’s residency requirement for municipal jobs, and a package deal of laws aimed toward safety abortion rights and privateness.
Per public data, Associates of Helen Health club ended 2021 with round $327,000 in money readily available.
That’s probably the most among the many former members of Metropolis Council who’ve introduced campaigns, however lower than half of what former metropolis controller Rebecca Rhynhart had out there at first of the calendar yr.