Andre Carroll, running for State Representative for House District 201
My name is Andre D. Carroll and I am a criminal justice advocate and former educator born and raised in Philadelphia. I was raised by my single grandmother, because my father has spent the majority of my life incarcerated and my mother has been struggling with addiction since before I was born. As a grandchild, my grandmother taught me that hard work, perseverance and identifying opportunity were some of the most important traits to have. These lessons helped to motivate me to not only try to enrich myself, but also to invest in and support the growth of others. It was after the death of my grandmother that I still very young myself, committed to providing support and resources for my younger brother, trying to be the best older sibling I could be. There are 4.6 million opportunity youth in this country including myself, which means there are over 4 million young adults disconnected from school or employment. Coming from this background I know exactly what it means to work a full time job and take classes at night. My journey has allowed me to obtain a degree in business administration from Pierce College, attend Temple University and ultimately led to me having to drop out due to financial hardship. This is the reality for so many Pennsylvanians, and that’s why I will be fighting for free community colleges and increased funding for CTE and workforce development programs in our High Schools. My grandmother died because of poor access to healthcare, which pushed me to work to provide access to quality healthcare to elders. This is so they didn’t experience the same things my grandmother did. That’s why I will be fighting for every Pennsylvania’s right to quality healthcare, regardless of income or employment status. Additionally I sit on the board of The Brothahood Foundation, which serves incarcerated juveniles facing adult criminal charges. I also serve on the Philadelphia District Attorney Youth Aid Panel, which helps prevent juveniles from getting a criminal record after being arrested. As a state representative, I will be opposing mass incarceration at every turn. which included pushing to stop pretrial detention, harmful mandatory minimum sentences and ending cash bail.
1 (a). Some of Philadelphia’s most dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists based on injury statistics are PennDOT-owned arterials, many of which are major downtown streets and commercial corridors running through densely-populated parts of Philadelphia. Would you use your position to support safer urban arterials by pushing PennDOT to adopt Vision Zero and complete streets policies? (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/philadelphia-traffic-fatalities-penndot-20190208.html)
1b. What types of legislative and policy changes are needed to correct this problem at PennDOT?
My position is that we need safer urban arterials. PennDOT needs to be held accountable for their lack of investment in improving the conditions of their roads, where pedestrian deaths are more likely to occur. PennDOT has proclaimed that they are committed to limiting pedestrian deaths, but having an office in King of Prussia indicates a less concerned attitude. Legislatively we need to limit the expansion of highways and increase funding and access to urban transportation, cycling, and other means of travel which limit single passenger car travel.
2 (a). Will you co-sponsor the ‘Vulnerable Road User’ Bill which increases fines for causing death, serious and bodily injury of vulnerable roadway users by careless and reckless driving? (https://bicyclecoalition.org/vulnerable-road-user-bill-introduced-in-pa-state-house/)
2 (b). Parking-protected bike lanes have a row of street parking between vehicle traffic and the bike lane. These kinds of lanes are allowed now on city streets, but not state roads, which are among the busiest and most dangerous for bicyclists. Will you co-sponsor the parking protected bike lane bill? (https://www.inquirer.com/transportation/parking-protected-bike-lane-cycling-philadelphia-pennsylvania-legislation-20190430.html)
3 (a). State lawmakers like Nikil Saval and Brian Sims endorsed the Safer Washington Ave campaign’s demands and played a helpful role in showing support from elected leaders. Will you join these other elected officials in publicly endorsing Safer Washington Ave and future road safety campaigns? (https://whyy.org/articles/city-facing-criticism-says-washington-ave-pivot-was-a-matter-of-equity/)
3 (b). How would you listen and respond to constituents who oppose road safety measures out of fears of traffic congestion and gentrification?
I am running to be a State Representative, which means that I have to get elected by people who believe in me and my message. One of the things I talk about with folks in my district is traffic. Many folks talk about elongated wait times and how much longer commuting takes now vs prior to the pandemic. What I stress most is the human factor of travel and road safety, and for the most part folks are receptive. I think that what folks oftentimes miss out on is just how dangerous vehicles are and the real improvements that can come from improved traffic safety measures. The most dangerous road in our district is Broad street, which is one of the deadliest roads in Philadelphia. Broad street also doesn't have any bike lanes on it, making travel from North and South Philly rather difficult.
4. Pennsylvania passed legislation enabling automated speed enforcement on Roosevelt Blvd and highway work zones. Do you support the expansion of automated speed enforcement to School Zones and on other High Injury Network streets throughout Philadelphia? (https://whyy.org/articles/roosevelt-boulevard-speed-cameras-represent-rare-bipartisan-win/)
Speed enforcement is a necessary step in moving Pennsylvania toward a Vision Zero policy. I believe that an expansion of automated speed enforcement in high traffic injury areas will lead to a shift in driver behavior, which would subsequently lower the number of accidents overall. We have to ensure that we are prioritizing pedestrians, and cyclists, who are currently at risk of serious harm, due to an overall increase in road traffic due to the pandemic. Additionally, any revenue generated through the expansion of this program should be invested into other traffic safety programs and initiatives.
5. Do you support state-enabling legislation for congestion pricing, permitting municipalities and regions to institute tolls on cars entering into the most congested areas, and using the funds for improvements to transit, and for infrastructure for walking and bicycling? (https://www.inquirer.com/transportation/congestion-pricing-new-york-philadelphia-traffic-20190402.html)
Prioritizing the health and well-being of the citizens is of paramount importance and having additional cars on the road further exacerbates air pollution in urban areas. Vehicles account for about 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, which means that they account for a major share of air pollutants. Limiting congestion, would help curb this some of the major health issues caused by air pollution. However, Philadelphia is one of the most heavily taxed cities in the country, especially amongst major cities; we are also the poorest big city in the nation, with a population greater than a million. I believe that we need to be strategic about how who's being most affected by this tax, by being intentional about the areas where this tax would be instituted. The burden of taxes in this city falls on so many working class and working poor folks, many of whom have longer commute times.
6. Transportation is the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania. While many elected officials are relying on people adopting electric vehicles, we would like to see the commonwealth play a more active role in reducing car dependence. What do you see as the solution to combat these emissions, enhancing mobility and improving safety in your district and Pennsylvania more broadly?(https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/climate/Pages/GHG-Inventory.aspx)
Electrified, modernized public transit, is key in shifting our reliance on car usage. While the average delay for a public commuter train in Tokyo is around 30 seconds, here in Philly it isn't uncommon for a SEPTA rider to wait 10 or even 15 minutes for a bus, trolley or train. While Japan's public transit infrastructure exists as one of the most efficient in the world, the U.S has undertaken many initiatives to improve existing infrastructure, and Pennsylvania shouldn't be an exception to modernized public transit. There are five major facets of any successful and effective public transit system. Accessibility, which means that stations and vehicles need to meet ADA standards. Convenience, we need to have stops and stations placed in areas that are trafficked heavily, like airports, shopping areas and schools. Frequency, one of the reasons why so many people opt out of public transit is the lack of timeliness and infrequency of service. Options, the cities with the highest rated public transit systems have a combination of a network of rails, subways and buses. Finally one of the most important factors in any successful public transit system is affordability, our transit system needs to be affordable and accommodating.
7. Would you support prioritizing the East Coast Greenway multi-use trail system by accelerating the completion of gaps in its network, improving safe walking and biking connections to underserved neighborhoods, and creating a dedicated maintenance funding source to upgrade existing trails in need of repairs? (https://www.greenway.org/faqs)
8 (a). State gas tax revenue has been decreasing due to improvements in fuel economy and a switch to electric vehicles. Of the options in Gov. Wolf's Transportation Revenue Options Commission Report, which recommendations do you support the most? (https://www.penndot.pa.gov/about-us/funding/Pages/Gap.aspx)
I would say that the recommendation that seems most beneficial and least invasive is the Bridge Tolling proposal. We already use tax dollars to pay for bridge construction and as we expand our public infrastructure increased bridges would increase funding for other infrastructure projects.
8 (b). Should our commonwealth continue to fund highway expansion projects as a means to combat congestion?
9. What are some of your own ideas for enhancing mobility and improving road safety in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?
On Public Transit: My district is home to the second largest SEPTA transportation hub in the network. I believe that we need dedicated bus lanes and should be moving to electrify our buses as soon as possible. Personal vehicle traffic on critical bus routes, causes delays for public transit passengers, which isn't fair. I think that both front and rear end boarding would decrease delays further. We also need to modernize our transit hubs, so that they aren't antagonistic towards folks experiencing homelessness and young folks. On Roads more generally: I believe the the installation of more medians and speed bumps, would improve safety conditions and limit the number of fatal and serious vehicle-pedestrian accidents. We also need to expand our citywide bike lanes and improve sidewalk conditions.
10 (a). Do you support the Transit For All PA funding platform to generate $1.65 billion dollars/year to replace Act 89's funding for transit? (https://www.transitforallpa.org/platform/)
10 (b). Do you support legislation enabling local governments to implement new transit funding mechanisms, while ensuring that local funds are supplemental and not used to replace a shortfall from the state? (https://www.transitforallpa.org/platform/)
10 (c). How would you propose raising the necessary funds for Pennsylvania's public transit going forward?
I think that there are several ways that we can generate revenue for PA's public transit projects. First, I think that we need to get rid of the Delaware loophole tax, which allows corporation to get away with not paying a fair share in taxes, by letting them establish holding companies in Delaware to evade PA taxes. We also need to institute combined reporting for the corporate net income tax, which would force corporations to pay an equal percentage to the revenue generated in this state. Additionally, I support the Fair Share Tax Plan, which would generate over $2 Billion dollars in revenue through an increase of taxes on passive income, from things like net profits, royalties, patents, copyrights and dividends. We could also try to boost ridership of public transit, by increasing routes and improving transit vehicles comfort and aesthetic.
11 (a). SEPTA is undergoing several projects to reform the way it currently operates including redesigning its bus network, improving its wayfinding, reimagining regional rail, and modernizing its trolley system. Do you support these efforts? (https://planning.septa.org/projects/)
11 (b). If so, how would your district benefit, and what will you do (or have done) to ensure that SEPTA can advance these changes? If not, how should SEPTA spend its capital budget instead?
My district is home to the second largest transportation hub in the entire SEPTA network, the Broad and Olney transportation center. If SEPTA overhauls it's pre-existing routes, vehicles and centers, my district would benefit greatly. Improving on what exists here and developing new routes would increase accessibility in my district significantly, and I will support these efforts however I can.
12. Do you support dedicated bus and trolley lanes and legislation enabling automated enforcement cameras to deter other vehicles from using these lanes? (https://mobilitylab.org/2018/09/17/automated-bus-lane-enforcement-is-more-effective-than-police-among-other-findings/)
Personal vehicles using lanes designated for trolleys and buses has been one of the major causes in route delays and in many cases traffic accidents. If we are clear that public transit, is and should be a viable option for safe, affordable and timely travel, we have to invest in their ability to operate functionally. Which means creating specific deterrents to prevent personal vehicles from violating public transit lanes.
13. What are some of your own ideas for solutions to improve the quality (frequency, speed, and accessibility) of transit service in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?
We need to invest more money into our public transit system. Which would enable us to modernize our buses, trolleys and trains, create ADA accessible transportation stops and hubs, expand public transit routes and so much more. Furthermore, I think that we need to decriminalize fare evasion, get rid of transfer fees, and create a program for low-income transit users. Additionally, I believe that passengers under 18 years old shouldn't have to pay for public transit services.
14. The price of a typical home in Philadelphia was increasing at a faster rate than the ability of a typical Philadelphian to pay for it. Do you see a major component of this problem as constrained housing supply due to restrictive zoning laws? (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/housing-affordability-philadelphia-covid-20211206.html)
I do think that zoning has a role in housing supply, but I believe that the two greatest challenges faced with trying to secure housing are wages and housing costs. The median household income in Philadelphia is 50k, while home prices are around 223k. Rents are also incredibly high in Philadelphia, and we need to implement legislation that increases the minimum wage, but we also need to improve access to home ownership by increasing the amount awarded in grants, as well as the number of grants available.
15. Would you support state-based efforts to preempt local zoning and land use controls to encourage housing development particularly in affluent and transit-rich areas? (https://www.planetizen.com/definition/state-preemption)
I would have to learn more.
Historically pre-emption has been used by electeds in Harrisburg to undermine local governments and it's the reason why Philadelphia can't raise it's minimum wage. If I were to support the use pre-emption I would need to study and examine.
16. If elected, what will you do to make housing, both market-rate and subsidized, more affordable?
I have experienced homelessness before and believe that housing is a human right, because no one should go through what I've had to go through. We need to implement comprehensive legislation that increases state and federal subsidies for low income housing. Additionally I support a Tenant Bill of Rights for renters.
17 (a). An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a self-contained home with its own kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area on the same lot as the main house. They can be used to keep multi-generational families together, to give homeowners the option to rent part of their property, and to give seniors more options for aging in place. Do you see permitting ADU construction as an important element in increasing housing supply? (https://local.aarp.org/news/adus-provide-unique-housing-solution-to-todays-challenges-pa-2021-06-17.html)
17 (b). What efforts will your office take to ensure seniors can age in place?
My grandmother purchased the home I grew up in from an older woman who was forced to sell her property because she could no longer age in place, due to an injury she sustained going up the stairs. This is the reality for so many of our elders across the commonwealth. Many homes in Philadelphia are not accessible for older folks, due to number of stairs, lack of wheelchair accessibility and other factors, this is simply unacceptable. One of my most important issue areas is housing. I believe that everyone should be able to age in place, which means that we need to invest more into the concept of forever homes. One of the things I think that we can do is create a fund to subsidize the cost of home renovations, which would increase accessibility for seniors. Additionally, because many of our elders are not homeowners, we need to ensure that rising rent costs don't displace folks. This means that we need to ensure that rent can't rise for seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes.
18 (a). Philadelphia is currently experiencing over 1,000 overdose deaths annually, a significant public health crisis. Do you see supervised injection sites as an important element in the battle against addiction deaths? (https://whyy.org/articles/time-for-safehouse-to-ask-forgiveness-not-permission-on-philly-supervised-injection-site-experts-say/)
18 (b). Why or why not?
Overdose deaths can be prevented through a real investment of public health and direct intervention. Supervised injection sites have been proven to prevent overdose death in almost all cases, they've helped reduce the number of infectious disease cases and significantly decrease the number of ambulance calls. We need to make real investments in public health, and safe injection sites are one of the most important investments in our communities.
19. Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania DEP are moving to participate in a program that would limit harmful carbon pollution from power plants in Pennsylvania. This program is called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and it would have power companies pay for the pollution they generate while setting caps on future pollution. Different interest groups within the Democratic Party have taken different positions on this, with some building trades unions on one side and environmental groups on the other. If elected, would you support joining RGGI? (https://www.inquirer.com/science/pennsylvania-house-rggi-climate-change-gov-wolf-20211216.html)
Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state which hasn't signed onto RGGI. Virginia was previously signed on, but backed out after electing a Republican Governor. PA is the regions largest carbon greenhouse gas emitter and Pennsylvanians are suffering because of it, specifically Black and Brown people. The Covanta Waste Management Plant in Chester, PA is the largest emitter of particulate matter in this country. What is more horrendous is that the city of Chester, where the incinerator operates and was intentionally placed is almost 90% Black. This area reports higher than average rates of asthma, cancer and other pollution based illnesses. This incinerator needs to be shut down, and PA needs to sign on to RGGI.
20. Tell us more about what you bring to the table as an ally for urbanist politics in Harrisburg. What makes you the right person to advance the urbanist movement's goals politically or substantively at the state level? How would you build support for pro-urbanist policies among your colleagues from outside our region?
This district has more transit stations than the average district in Philadelphia, being home to the second largest SEPTA transit hub in the entirety of Southeastern Pennsylvania. I have been reliant on these routes and vehicles for most of my life, and know what it's like to ride them daily. One thing of the major issues of transit funding is that there hasn't been a transit champion on the State level from Philadelphia. Being a Black person in a majority Black city, I understand that SEPTA is the most commonly used mode of transportation for most working class and working poor Philadelphians. I have built relationships with city councilmembers, like Councilmember Kendra Brooks, who's victory over the Republicans in 2019 remains one of my fondest memories. I will use my platform in Harrisburg to advance a Transit for all PA agenda.