Andre Del Valle
What office are you seeking?
State Representative 175th Legislative District
My name is Andre Del Valle. I am a lifelong Philadelphian, having grown up in the Mayfair area and receiving degrees from LaSalle University (B.A. in Spanish and Political Science) and Temple University (M.A. in Public Policy). My parents are immigrants who came to this country with nothing, but who worked hard to provide a better life for their family. Watching my family both struggle with and benefit from government programs got me interested in our institutions from a young age. I have been President of both the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Young Democrats, and my work as a Legislative Aide for Councilwoman Sanchez gave me a deep understanding of what it takes to write, pass, and operationalize legislation. I believe that of all the candidates in this race, I have the most nuanced understanding of the issues in our community and what it takes to solve them, whether it be tackling big problems like the opioid epidemic and school safety, or more every day issues like trash collection and road congestion.
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. So far, PennDOT has been indifferent to calls from safety advocates for the kinds of engineering changes to these roads that would calm traffic. Would you use your position to support advocates' calls for safer urban arterials? What types of legislative and policy changes are needed to correct this problem at PennDOT? (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/philadelphia-traffic-fatalities-penndot-20190208.html)
One of the things I learned as a Legislative Aide that was extremely helpful was relationship building and knowing that you are not the smartest person in the room. Any official who says they fully understand every issue pressing our Commonwealth is simply lying or in denial. We need our advocates at the table as they are the ones who offer different perspectives and insight to any legislative matter we intend to vote on. I firmly believe that when you are not at the table you are on the menu so I would use my position to work as a liaison between our advocates and our department heads across the Commonwealth. Some of the barriers that I see are the lack of transparency along with the red tape and bureaucracy at all levels of our government. My hope is to work with our advocates to create a process of transparency in order ensure that our advocates always have a voice and access to their government. I believe that any opportunity that we have to save lives and any opportunity we have to bring advocates together is an opportunity worth taking on any piece of legislation.
Pennsylvania recently passed legislation enabling automated speed enforcement on Roosevelt Blvd and highway work zones. Do you support the expansion of automated speed enforcement cameras to School Zones and on other High Injury Network streets throughout Philadelphia? (https://whyy.org/articles/roosevelt-boulevard-speed-cameras-represent-rare-bipartisan-win/)
On December 31, 1999, as my father and I were on our way to ACME, our vehicle was struck by a speeding motorist who ran the light as they were fleeing from police crossing the Boulevard on Harbison Avenue. The impact caused a number of significant injuries to my father who still deals with some of those injuries to this day. We were lucky compared to the countless number of lives that have been lost on this highway over the years, whether they are in a vehicle or whether they are pedestrians. The Boulevard has always been one of the most dangerous highways in the country and we need to continue finding innovative solutions to slow down traffic. Although the recent legislation passed would not have prevented the accident my father and I were involved in, those cameras on the boulevard could have prevented a number of senseless deaths by slowing traffic down, ensuring pedestrian safety along the highway.
We need to continue implementing legislation and pursuing innovative solutions to protect pedestrians, highway workers, and commuters on every major highway in Pennsylvania. Whether we take measures to slow down traffic with cameras, unsync traffic lights on long strips, or redirect traffic through our communities, we must take every opportunity to prevent a loss of life.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the U.S. that bans local law enforcement from using radar for vehicle speed enforcement. Do you support lifting this ban? (https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/06/is-2019-the-year-local-cops-in-pa-will-get-radar.html)
Although I do believe in law enforcement having the ability to enforce speed with radars, I believe there is also more of a systematic problem in our city with residents in low income neighborhoods and our Police Department. In neighborhoods like Kensington there is a major distrust and the belief of racial bias with disproportionately high rates of African Americans and Latinos being being pulled over. If I were to support legislation giving more authority to police to justify a stop, I would want to ensure that there is proper bias training within our Police Department so that there is no misuse of the radar enforcement to infringe on the rights of motorists.
Do you support state enabling legislation to allow Philadelphia and other cities to use cameras for congestion-related enforcement? Areas that should be enforced by camera include bus zones, travel lanes, corner clearances, crosswalks, delivery zones, and non-curb pickups and drop-offs by ride-hailing drivers. Currently, the law allows for enforcement only upon the observation of an officer. Cameras allow a more cost-efficient alternative and are less subject to human and systemic biases. (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/traffic-congestion-philadelphia-parking-tickets-ppa-20191211.html)
With a city-wide poverty rate of 26% and the 175th District’s 20% rate, I believe we need to move away from taxing or penalizing our residents. Rather, I believe we can create a medallion program for our delivery services along with our taxi cabs/transportation services where they would pay a fee for the year in order to deliver during off-peak hours to reduce congestion throughout our city. With this medallion program, PPA would have the ability to levy higher fines from those who are not in the medallion program and who choose to deliver during off-peak hours. This would serve similar to a congestion tax. For our transportation services such as cabs, Uber, and Lyft, all drivers would be required to enroll in a medallion program that would have a yearly tax in order for them to be able to pick up riders throughout our city. In regards to our crosswalks, corner clearances, and bus lanes we need to work with Philadelphia’s OIT department to create a user-based reporting system for reporting infractions that would notify PPA in the area to issue a ticket. Unfortunately the infrastructure needed to cover every corner, bus zone, and corner clearances would not be equitable or efficient to maintain on a yearly basis. My other other concern with adding cameras is the ability to use facial recognition or any other software that could infringe on the security of our residents or our status as a Sanctuary City.
Act 89 transportation funds have historically been diverted to pay the state police budget, reducing the funds available to pay for public transit and road projects. What is the best way to safeguard this revenue to ensure that Commonwealth residents see all the transportation improvements they were promised when state lawmakers raised the gas tax? (https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/can-you-pay-for-infrastructure-repairs-without-raising-state-taxes-in-new-plan-house-gop-says-yes/)
Lawmakers make a number of promises which is why I firmly believe that legislative records, budget priorities, and appropriation transfers speak volumes as to what legislators truly believe in advocating. Regarding Act 89’s transportation funds, we need to work with our local delegation to ensure that those priorities continue to be at the forefront of budget discussions while working with our local municipalities to enact ordinances locking in a certain percentage or matching what our local municipalities allocate for certain projects in cities of the first class to protect and lock these funds from being transferred. There are a number of challenges to simply saying that I would ensure these funds would not be transferred, as budgets vary year to year. However I would continue to advocate and work with our delegation to make this a priority.
What are some of your own ideas for enhancing mobility and improving road safety in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?
As someone who loved to Indego bike to work while I was a Legislative Aide, I understood firsthand some of the mobility and safety challenges for not only bike riders, but also for pedestrians and motorists. One of the many challenges I faced as a bike rider was the lack of protections between myself and those driving downtown. My commute would lead me down Spring Garden where there are (thankfully) bike lanes installed; however, that does not prevent commuters from turning or swerving into a bike lane as there are no protected or raised bike lanes in this area. One of the most efficient and effective ways of addressing this is by creating bike lanes which provide a buffer between bikers and motorists. These ideally permanent posts would separate bikers from commuters. Other solutions include flexible bollards, painted bike lanes (neon colors to make them visible), and raised bike lanes to create visibility. If elected I hope to survey the highest trafficked and commuted areas of my district whether they be on Spring Garden, 2nd Street, or Washington Avenue, and find common sense ways to protect our bikers, pedestrians, and motorists.
As someone who lives and works in an area with a lot of development, the safety of our constituents must be a top priority.e need to enact legislation that mandates a pedestrian safety plan for any construction impacting any right of way (including ADA ramps) or anything that may force a pedestrian to step into the roadway. Unfortunately in our district I continue to see sidewalks closed off, forcing pedestrians to cross in the middle of the street rather than using crosswalks. In these construction areas we need to set up temporary “yield to pedestrians” signs with flashers to ensure that they are visible passing motorists. I would also like to see more audio systems at our crosswalks, in multiple languages, for our visually impaired residents to safely cross the street.
Act 44, which transfers $450 million a year from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to public transit agencies, is set to expire in 2022. What is your plan to safeguard and expand the state revenue dedicated to public transit after this law expires? (https://wskg.org/news/pa-turnpike-escapes-catastrophic-lawsuit-but-remains-heavily-in-debt/)
Working in City Council as a Legislative Aide, I had the opportunity to break down our City’s budget annually to determine how we could properly fund initiatives and programs throughout the city. One of the ways we could help offset the transfer of this appropriation, which sunsets in 2022, is by breaking down the budget and prioritizing the initiatives of that fiscal year. Working with my colleagues across the aisle and within the Philadelphia delegation, I know that come 2022 we can make transit funding one of our top priorities --- as this not only impacts major cities like Philadelphia, but also stretches into our surrounding counties with our Regional Rail system --- to ensure that we are properly funding the transit system so we do not have any other accidents similar to what happened with the Amtrak line here in Philadelphia.
Do you support dedicated transit lanes and legislation enabling “Automated Transit Lane Enforcement” cameras mounted on transit vehicles and on roadsides 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/)
I would be open to exploring this legislation and incorporating a feasibility study on how it could operationalize given our current infrastructure.
Do you support state enabling legislation for congestion pricing, permitting municipalities and regions to institute tolls on automobiles 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)
SEPTA has the capability to expand its rapid transit service by simply running its commuter rail lines more frequently and integrating its fares with subways and buses. But to do so, the agency will need to prioritize certain capital improvements and implement some operational reforms. Do you support such an expansion for our city's train service? (https://whyy.org/articles/analysis-how-septa-can-turn-regional-rail-in-philly-into-high-frequency-rapid-transit/)
As a legislator, how would you use the power of your office to advance those changes, instead of retaining the current structure which caters more to professional-class suburban commuters?
One of the biggest hurdles for our transit service system is its inclusivity for low income residents. One example is the SEPTA Key Card which you have to apply for at certain stations or upload money online forcing low income residents to have to reload money at the station to reload your Key Card. Unfortunately, there are communities in my district with residents who don’t have reliable access to a computer, let alone an internet connection, to upload or apply for the SEPTA Key Card. We need to be more proactive in enrolling commuters from low income neighborhoods and waiving the application fees to prevent barriers of enrollment.
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?
The 175th is home to some of our greatest transit service systems, from the “EL” to all of the bus stops across the district. As someone who rides our transit system daily, I support the removal of “A” and “B” stops on the EL. The morning commute forces many to have to drive to another stop that may not be as busy in order to make it to their destination on time, causing more cars on the roads in the morning than necessary which leads to more congestion on our roads and more harm to our environment. Regarding accessibility, we need to hold SEPTA accountable for the cleanliness of their stops and stations by adding trash cans to our buses and trains. Some of the highest rates of litter, based on the Mayor’s Litter Index, are in the areas surrounding transit stops. When commuters don’t feel safe walking up the steps because of the trash and needles, they are forced to look at other options, whether they be driving to another station, calling a car service, or simply driving into work, causing ripple effects in our community. Lastly, we need to create designated handicap parking at all of our transit stops to ensure that every resident has equal access to their public transit service.
California’s legislature recently introduced a pro-housing bill SB 50, which would preempt local zoning restrictions on dense housing construction near high-quality transit, and in high-opportunity areas with large concentrations of jobs or in-demand school districts. Similar bills have also been introduced by progressive lawmakers in Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and Virginia to preempt local exclusionary zoning policies like apartment bans, parking quotas, and minimum lot size rules from the state level. Do you support amending Pennsylvania’s Municipal Planning Code to preempt local exclusionary zoning policies in this way, with the goal of allowing transit-oriented housing near state-funded transit and commuter rail stations? (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/sb50-california/604786/)
Yes; as a Legislative Aide for Councilwoman Sánchez I worked on the Transit Oriented Development legislation as well as the affordable housing allocation to ensure we provided housing near commuter rail stations. I would proudly support and introduce both pieces of legislation at the state level.
The century-old Separations Act requires multiple bids for all different parts of public construction projects in Pennsylvania, which some state officials believe makes public works projects unnecessarily expensive and inefficient, and precluding Design-Build firms from bidding on public construction projects. Will you support and advocate for repeal of the Separations Act? (https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/03/07/oped-s-time-repeal-separations-act-pa/98857412/)
I would have to discuss this with stakeholders regarding this act to ensure full transparency of the contracts and allocation of funds especially when handling tax payer money.
Governor Tom Wolf has announced his intentions for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative—a regional cap and trade program that could push PA to cut emissions more aggressively, while generating revenue for public transit, clean energy, and other priorities. Joining RGGI would likely require an act of the state legislature, and 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 legislation to join RGGI?(https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2019/10/03/gov-wolf-pennsylvania-regional-greenhouse-gas-initiative/)
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?
As the first Latino President of the Philadelphia Young Democrats and the first Latino President of the Pennsylvania Young Democrats, I have had the opportunity to work in counties that are not as blue as Philadelphia. As the Latino Outreach Coordinator in Governor Wolf and Senator Casey’s campaigns, I was not only galvanizing support for both candidates across the Commonwealth but listening to and learning the needs of citizens across the Commonwealth, from rural to urban counties. I believe that a legislative record should speak for itself and in my time as a Legislative Aide with Councilwoman Sanchez I worked on legislation for transit oriented development, from advocating for improved lighting under the EL to working with SEPTA to address some of the challenges our residents face while heading to our stations in the midst of the opioid epidemic. We need someone with legislative experience, who has already begun to work with these departments to improve the lives of residents across the city-- and not only during election season. We need someone who has advocated for low income residents and continues to advocate to protect residents whether they be commuters on the train, bicyclists, pedestrians, or motorists. We need someone with a Better Vision and I believe I am the candidate who can get it done here in the 175th District.