Cassandra Green, running for State Representative - House District 10
I am organizer, artist, educator, and mentor and I am running for State Representative because I’m tired of people who don’t look like me or have the experiences I’ve had holding all the power, determining whether or not I get to thrive, or if my community will thrive. The only way to guarantee we will thrive is to take power ourselves and run for office. My campaign platform is simple: affordable quality housing, quality jobs with dignified wages, healthcare for all, and criminal justice reform–these are the things I have spent my career advocating for– these are the things our community deserves. In the 30 years I have called West Philly home I have fought for reliable food sources, affordable housing, and justice in my community through my professional roles at People's Emergency Center, NKCDC and as founding member of the nonprofit Mill Creek Community Partnerships. I am ready to bring professional and lived experiences, grit and grind to the table in solidarity with others who are fighting for change in my neighborhood and across the city to the halls of power in Harrisburg.
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?
I would use my position in the State House to support calls for safer urban arterials. It is clear that PennDOT is not invested in our communities, and that is highlighted by the fact that their office is completely inaccessible as it is located in King of Prussia, rather than in the city of Philadelphia. As the article highlights, pedestrians are more likely to be killed on a PennDOT street than that they are in other parts of the city. This is a huge problem and we need to address it head on - and have PennDOT follow through on their vision of eliminating traffic deaths. At the same time, we need to stop the expansion of highways and other car-specific modes of transportation, and instead focus on expanding cleaner modes of transit - such as bike lanes and public transportation.
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?
Having been a community organizer for over 20 years in West Philadelphia, I am no stranger to conflict. I always would respond to my constituents’ concerns with care and compassion, as it's important to make sure people feel as though their needs are being heard. The reality is that walking, public transit and bicycling are for many people the only viable modes of affordable transit, and we want to make sure everyone - regardless of what mode of transportation they use - feels safe. I believe that there will be tensions in these conversations, but they are good to have - and require ongoing communication between community members. At the same time, I am grounded in the importance in both implementing road safety measures while also holding various developers and corporations accountable to the needs of any given community.
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/)
Yes, I support the expansion. I believe that speed enforcement cameras are a necessary part of getting Philadelphia to this Vision Zero policy. Especially with more cars on the road as a result of COVID, we need the city to use more tactics to ensure that our pedestrians, drivers and cyclists are not killed. I would also say that any extra revenue gained through this expansion should go directly back into other safety funding transportation projects.
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)
Yes - and I see congestion both as an environmental issue and a health one. As the article highlights, Philadelphia is the ninth most congested city in the country and we need to find solutions to change that and I believe following in New York City’s footsteps could be part of that model. I believe that we should adopt congestion pricing, and at the same time consider following the model set in New York City around instituting a cap on the total number of vehicles allotted to Transportation Network Companies in cities.
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)
Building off my answer above, I believe that we need to move away from cars and other vehicles as are our society’s main modes of transportation, and instead invest more in alternative transportation - such as mass transit and bike lanes. We know the less cars and trucks we have on the roads, the less likely accidents are to occur. We also must, as Philadelphia and society at large, shift away from cars if we are to hit our climate goals and preserve our planet for future generations.
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)
Our campaign is open to supporting and implementing a variety of politics that simultaneously move us towards an energy efficient system and away from a reliance on individual cars and drivers. We would love to work with Fifth Square to figure out what options would work best and would be most feasible right now in Philadelphia.
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?
I believe that we need to make SEPTA more affordable and ultimately free. I believe in the meantime we should invest in designated safe spaces for buses and trolleys and more protected bike lanes. One way we could fund this is through increasing taxation on corporations and wealthy individuals, who already use tactics like the Delaware Loophole to get out of paying their fair share of taxes.
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?
Having reliable and safe public transportation is not just crucial in individuals’ lives, it also plays a crucial role in our economy in our city. This is why increasing funds for public transit must be a budgetary priority, rather than an afterthought. This could mean implementing policies that encourage more people to ride public transit and generate revenue through increased ridership, which has especially decreased as a result of COVID. Another way to do this would be through large scale tax reforms - and particularly through closing the Delaware Loophole, which actively lets corporations get away with not paying their fair share in taxes. I would also be in support of the Fair Share Tax Plan, which would raise over $2 billion dollars in new revenue that could go towards improving and expanding our public transportation. There could also be toll increases that could go to funding public transit, like on I-80, which traverses our state.
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?
Many people in my community and district rely on SEPTA to get to work or to school. Basic improvements in SEPTA lines would clearly benefit my neighborhood immensely, and I would fight to make sure any bus changes would have positive impacts on my community - rather than creating more barriers for everyday people.
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/)
Yes, absolutely. We need to stop cars from going into designated bus lanes and clogging up streets, like what happens frequently on Chestnut and Walnut streets in Center City.
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 clearly need to invest more money into our public transit systems. We should have more dedicated bus lanes, so that buses are a more feasible and quick transit option for many. I would also advocate for getting rid of transfer fees, as many working people in my district and across Philadelphia need to take more than one form of transit to get to work, and should not be charged more because of that.
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)
No, I do not see it as a zoning issue, but rather a prioritization one. It is much easier for developer's to get zoning permits to build luxury housing than it is for affordable housing to be built. As a city, we need to re-prioritize and focus more on building affordable housing rather than luxury housing - housing that keeps people in their homes instead of pricing them out. Personally, I can barely afford to live in the same “Village” that taught me so much about the power of community and am constantly almost brought to tears by the disappearance of the landscape that I call home. I am clear that growth and development in Philadelphia must mean investing in constituents, not displacing them.
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 am generally not in support of preemption, as in my understanding it can limit any given legislator's power to weigh in on issues affecting Philadelphians. I think it would have to be examined on a specific case by case basis.
16. If elected, what will you do to make housing, both market-rate and subsidized, more affordable?
I believe that housing is a human right. The reality today in the newly drawn 10th district is the tensions of gentrification in West Philadelphia. As more and more luxury housing is developed, I see more residents being displaced and rents increasing to rates that are unaffordable to working class families, young adults and single parent families. Throughout my career, I have worked with homeless families and youth stuck in the cycle of having to make impossible decisions between working a full-time low wage job and potentially losing their access to housing subsidies along with young adults couch-surfing in order to not go into a shelter. I would fight for legislation that keeps people in their homes and regulates development in my district and beyond. I also would fight to build, preserve or rehab hundreds of thousands of units of affordable housing as well as to end exclusionary zoning practices.
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)
I think ADUs are a good idea as long as they are properly regulated to make sure real estate developers cannot take advantage of any ADU codes that are created.
17 (b). What efforts will your office take to ensure seniors can age in place?
Seniors - and all people - have a right to have a home. I have advocated for affordable and subsidized housing for years through my roles as Co-founder of Mill Creek Community Partnership, and Director at the People’s Emergency Center and with New Kensington Community Development Corporation. Most recently, I have been immersed in organizing a resident engagement, activism and capacity building campaign to uplift the voices and power of the University City Townhomes Residents who are facing displacement due to gentrification in West Philadelphia which includes the historic Black Bottom community. As State Representative, I look forward to working with local, state and national legislators to ensure that new construction projects include affordable units, increased rent to own options, support credit repair, homes repair subsidies, housing counseling and estate planning to increase single family home acquisition for existing residents.
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?
Yes, I am a believer in supervised injection sites. We need to see addiction not as a criminal issue, but a systemic mental health one. I would fight for increased investment in public school education, which would include curriculums that center the arts and career exploration - such as entrepreneurship business training and co-op funding options .I would also invest in afterschool programs and other community spaces.
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)
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?
As someone who has relied on public transportation for most of their life -- I even moved to Ardmore to send my daughters to a good public school without a car and had to commute to the city for work -- I am deeply invested in our public transit systems being both accessibly and affordable. I am committed to working with and alongside community members to hear their input on what urbanist policies they want to see in our community - and to prioritizing affordable housing so that my neighbors and community members do not get priced out of their homes. I am also committed to working alongside all of my legislative colleagues to push the boundaries of what is possible in terms of thinking about prioritization and affordability of public transit.