Read 181st District Democratic candidate Malcolm Kenyatta's responses to the 5th Square 2018 Candidate Questionnaire. Visit our 181st District Campaign Page for more candidate questionnaire responses, event listings, and more.
Candidate Name: Malcolm Kenyatta
I am a third-generation resident of the North Philadelphia community that I am seeking to represent. I have strong roots in activism that trace back to my grandfather, a civil rights activist who ran for Mayor in 1975. At the age of 11, I served as a Junior Block Captain, to tackle some of the issues around beautification on my block. I graduated from Temple University with a degree in communications and political science, and have been laser focused on removing barriers that hold back people in disadvantaged communities.
Through my work, I have targeted issues of affordable housing and gentrification, living wages, education funding, gun violence, criminal justice reform and support for community organizations and neighborhood businesses. I recently left my job with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, where I worked on diversity and inclusion initiatives. I am running for State Representative of the 181st District to work towards making our neighborhoods what they can and should be, and that is a place of opportunity, fairness and progress for all.
Regarding land use and transportation issues, I believe that we must provide adequate funding and priority attention to these issues, and assure that policies addressing them work for all citizens, including the poor and working poor of our communities.
1. Act 89 transportation funds have increasingly been diverted to the state police budget, reducing the funds available to pay for infrastructure 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?
In this instance, and in general, legislatures have often used other pots of money to fill other gaps as a way to avoid raising taxes, particularly on the wealthy. But we need to raise taxes or raise revenue particularly from Pennsylvania's wealthiest families and corporations to deal with these budget shortfalls more broadly. I plan to be a voice to advocate for us to spend money in the way it was originally appropriated.
2. U.S. DOT opened the door to state tolling of federal highways at the end of the Obama administration. Would you support expanded road pricing of state and federal highways to fund transportation and infrastructure maintenance?
No. Tolls hurt working people who have to get to work and travel for a living. There are other ways, as referenced above, like raising taxes on the wealthiest Pennsylvania's and having an extraction tax, that will be needed to raise revenue But we can't continue to put the burden on working families.
3. Will you advocate for a "university pass" plan to include heavily-discounted transit passes in tuition for all Temple University students? What will you do to improve the quality of transit service in the 181st District, and north Philadelphia more broadly?
Yes. We need to make a college free for low-income students. We need to start moving forward with recommendations in the Vision Zero plan. I'm also interested in finding ways to get discounts for people receiving government assistance.
4. In Pennsylvania, traditional taxi companies and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) alike are not required to provide Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs), and the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s recent efforts to incentivize more WAVs have fallen flat. Meanwhile, SEPTA’s paratransit service is notoriously limited, requiring waits of more than a day. What should be done to create more accessible on-demand transportation options for residents who rely on paratransit services?
We have to fund these programs. We need to make accessibility to transit a priority.
5. In 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called on states to implement automated enforcement measures to reduce speed-induced deaths and injuries. If elected, will you introduce or co-sponsor state enabling legislation to allow municipalities to pilot photo-enforcement speed cameras in School Zones and on High Injury Network streets.
6. According to state crash data, North Broad Street is one of the most dangerous streets for pedestrians in the whole city. What will you do as a state rep to get PennDOT on board with design changes to make Broad Street safer for pedestrians?
This is an issue worth focusing on, and I will call PennDOT to task for such changes, but other streets are in need of changes as well. Broad Street isn't alone in this respect. We are going to have to work with city leaders to make changes along dangerous thoroughfares, like Roosevelt Blvd. and City Ave.
7. Pennsylvania is the only state in the U.S. that bans local law enforcement from using radar for vehicle speed enforcement. Recently a Mayor's Radar Coalition has formed to support lifting the state ban. Will you co-sponsor legislation to lift the ban?
8. How do you resolve the tension between regional planning goals and local zoning powers in cases where local sentiment is out of sync with sustainable planning objectives like sprawl containment, desegregation, or concentrating housing development near transit? Does state policy strike the right balance, or are changes needed?
Maintaining local preeminence on these issues is important and state and local officials have to be sensitive to their constituents and to the aesthetic culture and livability of areas, but certainly, we can and should be working together. For example, Philadelphia and its surrounding counties need to find ways to work together and work more effectively and succinctly on planning and zoning. To some extent, I can be a voice pushing them there.
9. Do you support amending the state's Municipal Planning Code to encourage transit-oriented development near state-funded transit and commuter rail stations similar to California's recent pro-transit bill SB-827, which removes most zoning restrictions on dense housing construction near high-quality transit?
10. Due to a Corbett-era rule change, Pennsylvania’s building code is no longer automatically updated to reflect the international building code, causing us to fall years behind on code updates. This has had harmful effects on building sustainability, public safety, and insurance costs. State lawmakers recently passed a one-time carve-out for the city of Philadelphia, allowing us to update our building code, but only for commercial development. Will you support or introduce legislation to allow Philadelphia to continually update our building code for both commercial and residential development?
I support the carve-out, but it’s an issue I would like to study more.
11. The century-old Separations Act requires multiple bids for all different parts of public construction projects in Pennsylvania, making 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?
No, we need to make sure there is protection for working families and for upholding the highest principles around safety, and union projects have proven in some instances, although not all obviously all instances, to do things in a safe way. If there are processes we need to look at in terms of updating, that's a conversation I am willing to have.