5th Square Endorses Candidates for Mayor and City Council


The 5th Square PAC is proud to endorse Jim Kenney today as our choice for Mayor, based on his strong personal commitment to the pedestrian safety and dignity, affordable transportation choices, and quality of life improvements our organization stands for.

After reviewing all of the candidates' questionnaire responses, our advisory board decided that Jim Kenney is the best candidate to continue the progress made by Mayor Nutter's administration on safer streets, multi-modal transportation, and investment in our public space, and working with our slate of City Council candidates, we believe he'll be able to take that agenda to the next level.

In the Democratic primary for City Council At-Large, the 5th Square endorsed five candidates: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Sherrie Cohen, Helen Gym, Paul Steinke, and Tom Wyatt. 

These choices highlight the broad appeal of the 5th Square's platform across the political spectrum, and the broad agreement that good land use and transportation policy must be part of the conversations about schools and economic competitiveness.

"Throughout my campaign I've talked about how smart planning and development go hand-in-hand with funding our schools," said Gym, best known as a public education activist, "and how we must create a connected city that benefits every neighborhood. For these reasons, I'm honored to have the endorsement of the 5th Square PAC and look forward to working on these issues when I'm elected to City Council."

Paul Steinke, a founding executive of Center City District, and former executive director of University City District, made the connection between good urban planning and economic revival.

"For the last 25 years, I have devoted my career--and my life--to improving public spaces in Philadelphia," Steinke said, "First at the Center City District when I helped revive our then-struggling downtown; then at the University City District, where I turned around a neighborhood plagued by crime, litter and low morale; and most recently as director of the Reading Terminal Market, which was named one of the 10 Great Public Spaces in America by the American Planning Association in 2014. As a member of City Council, I will work to continue to make Philadelphia a better, more attractive place to live, work, do business, and visit."

After careful deliberation, in the 2nd Council District, the 5th Square advisory board endorsed challenger Ori Feibush over incumbent Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, due in part to the incumbent's support for the failed policy of Councilmanic Prerogative over street design in his questionnaire responses––a major voting issue for the PAC in District elections.

Challengers Terry Tracy and Matt Wolfe received the group's endorsement in the Republican Council At-Large primary.

To receive a endorsement, all candidates had to receive 60% or better in a vote of the PAC's 12-member advisory board. 

Board members reviewed questionnaire submissions received from candidates last week, and selected the people they thought were the most willing and able to advance the group's issue agenda for safer streets, affordable transportation choices, low-car land use planning, improved parks and public space, and better governance in Philadelphia. 

All chosen candidates made commitments to pursue the following 5th Square platform priorities:

- A Vision Zero policy for pedestrian and bike safety

- Stepped up police enforcement and enhanced penalties for reckless and dangerous driving

- Prioritization of buses and transit over private cars on more streets, and stepped up enforcement of bus-only lanes

- 30-minute loading zones in high-density areas of the city to alleviate double-parking

- Continuing the multi-modal approach to street design started by the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities

- Exploring possibilities for off-hour deliveries to alleviate daytime traffic congestion

- Increasing the Streets Department's resurfacing budget

- Protected bike lanes for JFK and Market Street West

- Eliminating minimum parking requirements, at least in the densest transit-served areas

- Fixing land assessments to more closely reflect market values

- Pedestrianization of more street space currently used for parking and vehicles

- Non-elective regular street-sweeping service

- Revisiting the ultra-cheap $35 residential parking permit price

- And of course, ending the practice of allowing parking on City Hall's north apron once and for all

Check back soon for updates on our campaign, and transcripts and analysis of the candidates' responses.