Kerry Milch for Democratic Committee Person in Ward 2, Division 24 (Bella Vista)
Bio: I am a social scientist who studies decision making, focusing on environmental decisions and natural hazards communication. I grew up in the Philly suburbs, but have been living in cities ranging from the small (New Haven) to the very large (Tokyo, New York) ever since I finished high school. I share a home with my husband, who loves living a walkable distance to so many great restaurants and theaters; and my two young children, who love riding public transportation. I’ve served on the Executive Board of the Meredith Home and School Association for the past 3 years, helping organize their annual 5K run and spring auction. If you live in my neighborhood, you can frequently find me running – particularly in the early morning hours – or working from one of our many excellent coffee shops in the area. I’m running for Democratic Committee Person to boost voter turnout, to improve communication between Division 24 voters and the local party, and to help make our already incredible neighborhood even better.
What street in your neighborhood is most in need of improved conditions for pedestrians and people on bikes? What would you do as committeeperson to make it better?
In my neighborhood this would be E Passyunk, between Fitzwater and Monroe. The 3-way intersection of East Passyunk, South 5th Street, and Monroe regularly has cars blow through stop signs, and with many school children crossing two streets to reach Meredith Elementary, it is particularly dangerous. It is harrowing for bikers as well, and I have seen many near-accidents involving cars, bikes, and pedestrians.
Many children walk to Meredith and cross at East Passyunk and Fitzwater. I was part of a group of parents who advocated to have a stop sign and crosswalk installed there. But cars regularly ignore the stop sign and speed through anyway.
If elected committeeperson, I would work to make sure all Stop signs are placed before the crosswalks, that the crosswalks are clearly marked, and I would love to see speed bumps (or better yet, speed tables) installed to truly slow down cars.
Within the narrow boundaries of my division (2-24), the streets feel pretty safe. Some of the more trafficked streets (Fitzwater, Bainbridge, South 7th) could benefit from some signage reminding cars to share the road with bikes - whether that's in the form of actual signs or street painting. South 6th has heavy traffic as well, but added stop signs and a stop-ahead sign have helped cars slow down.
2. What street, public space, or building in your neighborhood has the best urbanism? What makes this space successful, however you define that?
I may be biased, but I’m going to say my block – the 700 block of South 6th Street. We have a fantastic mix of architectural styles, from the converted 1850s firehouse on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places to charming traditional row homes to converted lofts and more modern single-family homes. Even with the recent removal of some trees that had become dangerously old, we have beautiful trees and a great deal of shade. We’re flanked by an art gallery and amazing jewelry store on one end (Bainbridge), and a family-run dentists’ office at the other end (Fitzwater). We have easy access to fantastic restaurants in any direction, and we’re just a short 2-block walk to the local public school, Meredith Elementary.
This block also has a tremendous sense of community. We are led by an active block captain who has lived here for over 30 years, and this block consistently turns out for street clean-up and semi-annual parties. It is filled with people who care about this block, this neighborhood, and this city, and who are willing to lend a hand or pitch in when needed.
3. How would you use this neighborhood leadership position to advance urbanist political causes in Philadelphia?
If elected committeeperson, I would work to support party leaders who are willing to work to make our city safer, cleaner, greener, and accessible to all. I would do this by making sure the voters in my division are kept informed about every upcoming election and the positions of the candidates on the ballots, and by keeping voters informed of other ways they can advocate between elections for policy changes that support the goals of urbanism.
In addition to advocating for safer streets for pedestrians and bikers (see #1 above), I would also want to address the issue of garbage in our division. While not as bad as in some other neighborhoods, we can do better. The city-wide street clean-up days are effective and a great way to get to know your neighbors. Why not make them more frequent? Even moving from 2 per year to 4 seems manageable and worthwhile. I would aim to engage more with the block captains in my division and try to recruit captains for blocks that lack them.