John Street: Re-Elect the “Relentless” Maria Quiñones-Sanchez

Op-Ed: Sanchez will continue the fight against this city's most pervasive problem. Blight.

(Editor’s note: This is an op-ed from former Mayor John F. Street.)

It has been 35 years since I was sworn in as a member of the City Council of Philadelphia.

The president of the country was Jimmy Carter. The outgoing mayor was Frank Rizzo. The Council president was George X. Schwartz. Some of you just might recognize some of those names. Seems like another life.

I came into office thinking the city’s most pressing problem was blight and deteriorating neighborhoods. Sadly, notwithstanding a major offensive against this problem by successive administrations our city’s most difficult and persistent problem is still with us – BLIGHT.

Fortunately we have Councilwomen Maria Quiñones-Sanchez to continue the fight against this city’s most pervasive problem.

It is, therefore, my duty to recommend to the voters of the Seventh District to return her to City Hall for 4 more years — not because she needs us but because the city needs her persistent commitment to fight to improve neighborhoods throughout the city. The tens of thousands of vacant properties plaguing our communities are a safety hazard. They drive down property values, foster crime and cause a severe deteriorating effect on our tax base — not to mention the millions of dollars spent cleaning, sealing, fencing and ultimately demolishing them at taxpayer expense.

Councilwoman Sanchez was relentless in her efforts to pass the land bank legislation which is widely regarded as the great next step in dealing with the problem of blight in our neighborhoods.

She has also fought to maintain the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green initiative, which landscapes and maintains vacant lots in our neighborhoods to spur development and stabilize property values.

We thank her.

Councilwoman Sanchez also recognizes the importance of making the city a welcoming place for immigrants who have made significant contributions to other cities in our country.

She understands the importance of public safety in her district and throughout the city. She has worked with the captains in her district to improve response times and supported increased foot patrols, bike patrols and other community policing activities.

Jobs are the life blood of families. Councilwoman Sanchez has led efforts to reform our taxes to make our city more job friendly. Her reforms overhauled our antiquated business tax structure, thereby enabling our businesses to better compete. She also supports a living wage for all workers.

Councilwoman Sanchez  has been an avid defender of and fighter for full and adequate funding for the Philadelphia public schools. She has been a courageous supporter of several charter schools in her district and an unabashed proponent  of finding revenue measures to fund our schools in the face of devastating funding reductions coming from Harrisburg.

She fought to protect valuable city services, beating back an ill-advised proposal while still a freshman councilwoman to close library’s and other important  quality-of-life neighborhood services.

Councilwoman Sanchez believes strong communities are the backbone of a strong city.

On May 19 I urge every resident in the 7th District to vote to return Councilwoman Sanchez to city council for four more years!

John F. Street is a former mayor of Philadelphia and is an adjunct professor of political science at Temple University.