POLS ON THE STREET: White’s All Right; Dem Senators Take Chairs

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STATE REP. Martina White

With Philadelphia’s longstanding defender in the Harrisburg House of Representatives, State Rep. John Taylor, gone, State Rep. Martina White (R-Northeast) is the city’s sole vote in a majority caucus.

White has been rewarded by her colleagues for her survival in last year’s election with a plum assignment: the House Appropriations Committee.

Most of what really matters in government involves money, and all budgeting of money goes through Appropriations. State government spending and fiscal policies pass through this committee.

“This is a great honor and carries an enormous responsibility in shaping our state’s economic policies,” White said.

As a member of the committee, White, who began her second full term this month, will consider the budget blueprint that will be presented by Gov. Tom Wolf later this year. She will also consider budget alternatives from the legislature.

A MAJOR MLK kickoff event is held each year at Zion Baptist Church. L-R at this service were Pastor Chauncey Harrison, Cliff Skinner, supermarket owner Jeff Brown, Sheriff Jewell Williams and Scott Brown. Photos by Wendell Douglas

White has also been appointed to the Urban Affairs, Transportation, Consumer Affairs and Rules Committees.

As the only Philadelphia Republican to serve on these committees, she will have a significant influence on legislation affecting the state’s roads and mass-transit systems through the Transportation Committee; and the state’s public utilities, including water, gas, electric, and telecommunications, through the Consumer Affairs Committee.

“I want to ensure Philadelphia’s interests are strongly considered in Harrisburg as the budget is developed and key legislation is debated. As the only Republican from Philadelphia serving on these important committees, I will be in position to do that,” White said.

Look for some of Philadelphia’s Democratic elective leaders to consult with White on topics of interest from time to time.

City Democratic Senators Hold Key Posts

In the Senate chamber, Democrats, while still outnumbered, are newly reinforced. All Philadelphia senators are Democrats and, since most have seniority, their hands will be strengthened in this term.

TUSTIN Rec Center in Overbrook got a key grant to upgrade its facilities. Celebrating with the community were, 2nd row, from R, Parks & Recreation Center Kathryn Ott Lovell, State Rep. Morgan Cephas, City Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. Photo by Leona Douglas

State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-S. Phila.) of the 1st District, will chair the Community, Economic & Regional Development Minority Committee. He will also serve on Banking & Insurance, Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure, Judiciary and Nominations.

State Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Kensington), from the 2nd District, continues to Chair Labor & Industry. She also holds seats on Aging & Youth, Banking & Insurance and Law & Justice.

The 3rd District sends State Sen. Sharif Street (D-N. Phila.) to Capitol Hill. He’ll chair the Banking & Insurance Committee while serving on Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Appropriations, Health & Human Services, and Urban Affairs & Housing.

State Sen. Art Haywood (D-Northwest) chairs the Health & Humans Services Committee. His portfolio also takes in Appropriations, Finance, Intergovernmental Operations and Judiciary.

STATE REP. Malcolm Kenyatta moved into his new office at 1501 N. Broad Street. On his staff are, L-R, Charlene Cooper, Carolyn Smith, Sheila Simmons, Kenyatta, Adrienne Hines and Pearl Joslyn. Photos by Leona Dixon

The 5th District is represented by State Sen. John Sabatina, Jr. (D-Northeast). He chairs the Transportation Committee. Aging & Youth, Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Economic & R4ecreational Development and Judiciary.

The 7th District boasts State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-W. Phila.). He will lead Dems on the powerful Appropriations Committee while also serving on Finance, Intergovernmental Operations and Rules & Executive Nominations.

The 8th District sends State Sen. Anthony Williams (D-W. Phila.). He’ll head the State Government Committee while serving on Environmental Resources & Energy, Law & Justice and Rules & Executive Nominations.

These assignments place Philadelphians in positions to advocate on a wide range of important legislative issues.

In the 190th, Darryl Thomas Is on


The Democratic ward leaders in the 190th Legislative District recently vacated by Vanessa Lowery Brown have tapped barbershop owner Darryl Thomas to be their party’s nominee in the upcoming special election.

It was a difficult talent search, insiders report. The ward leaders resolved not just to reward a loyal retainer but to pick someone with a professional background. However, two initially promising candidates turned out to have residency issues – a path that has led to disaster elsewhere.

That isn’t Thomas’s problem. He was born and raised in the area and has a track record of community service.

He graduated from Howard University and worked for the Department of Justice before returning to Philadelphia to open a small business – a barbershop in Spruce Hill called Philly Cuts. He has committed to helping youth by partnering with local STEM and athletic organizations to create opportunities. Thomas has also worked to help former felons find work and provide them with the opportunity to make a living wage.


Thomas is no stranger to this district politically either, having run in a previous primary, when he finished in the middle of a large field. He is related to the Blackwell clan, which has deep roots in that part of West Philly.

Leacock Runs Again for 9th Council Dist. Seat

It also not the first run for office for Archye Leacock, who will again challenge Councilwoman Cherelle Parker (9th District).

Leacock is executive director of the Institute for the Development of African American Youth, a nonprofit with a long track record. He holds a master’s in public administration from Temple University and was an adjunct professor at that school.

DEJA LYNN ALVAREZ, the first transgender candidate for City Council at large, was joined by State Rep. Brian Sims at her well-attended campaign kickoff at the Ethical Society.

Leacock says he’s learned from his 2015 run in the school of political hard knocks. He studied how that worked out and vows to run a tighter campaign this time.

Petitioning is the starting play of any municipal race. In 2015, he garnered 1,700 petitions, he said; but he was not aware of the strict rules regarding the technical accuracy of signatures. “Four lawyers bounced me off the ballot,” he said. In the end, they got a judge to dismiss all but 715 of his signatures, below the statutory threshold.

That won’t happen this time, he avers. Clean petition sheets are planned for.

Leacock claims 150 volunteers on the street. He has stepped aside from his day job, avoiding conflict with City contracts and leaving him time to manage his campaign.

WELL-ORGANIZED endorsements went to judicial aspirant Kay Kyungsun Yu at Dim Sum House in University City. 2nd Generation, an Asian American committee, stood with her: L-R, Ryan Alsayegh, former DA candidate Joe Khan and former councilmanic candidate Andy Toy. The Asian American Pacific Bar Association of Pennsylvania also backed her, the first Korean American to seek the bench.

Leacock opposes the Sweetened Drinks Tax. He advocates that a percentage of all land sales go back to the City, and that purchasers commit in advance to paying taxes every year – particularly when it comes to City-owned land.

Every challenger faces an uphill battle – especially against a well-connected incumbent like Parker. But her district, which takes in hardscrabble inner-city beats, stubborn rowhouse streets, funky progressive communities and the posh funders of Chestnut Hill – has never been at peace politically. There are always more folks who judge themselves fit to occupy that office, than there are seats behind Cherelle Parker’s desk.

It’s interesting to note that Leacock is the first Philadelphian blind person to seek public office in our memory.

Blondell Moves on

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown (at Large) has announced she will wrap up her five terms in office this year and will not seek re-election.


Her 20 years of service will take the rest of this year to summarize, so we won’t bother for now.

She has certainly earned a pass on another grueling citywide election. We wish her the best of luck.

AFSCME 47 Vice President Ethelind Baylor immediately announced she will now seek an at-large Council seat, hoping to fill Reynolds Brown’s shoes.

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