PA State Rep 188: Rick Krajewski response to 5th Square questionnaire

Rick Krajewski, running for State Representative


Growing up in poverty in the Bronx, Rick’s mother taught him that he had to fight for what he needed because no one else was going to do it for him. She taught him how to survive hardship and overcome struggle. Rick first came to the 188th district to study at the University of Pennsylvania, where he co-founded a campus group for mixed-race students. Upon graduation, he worked as a software engineer and taught volunteer programming classes at Huey Elementary School before it was closed down and replaced by a charter school. Rick joined Reclaim as a volunteer and then rose in leadership to become a full-time organizer, transitioning out of his engineering job to commit to community organizing. Rick will bring the courage he inherited from his mother and his demonstrated ability to build community power into the legislature. It will take all of us fighting together to make West Philly housing affordable, to transform the criminal justice system, to make public education accessible to all, and to ensure that all of our needs are met. As an organizer, a son, an engineer, a West Philly neighbor, Rick understands that, and he is ready to make the office of the 188th State House Representative a hub to make it happen.


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? (


1b. What types of legislative and policy changes are needed to correct this problem at PennDOT?

We have the tools at our disposal in the 21st century to create a world with zero traffic deaths and to invest in our street infrastructure. We need to invest in protected bike lanes, pedestrian safety measures such as traffic lights and crosswalks, and other community safety measures such as crossing guards. This requires making increased investment in these infrastructures a legislative priority.

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? (


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? (


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? (


3 (b). How would you listen and respond to constituents who oppose road safety measures out of fears of traffic congestion and gentrification?

As a legislator and an organizer, I know that these issues are not simply black and white. When people have concerns about traffic congestion, lack of parking, and gentrification, it’s important to be understanding and acknowledge their fears and not pretend those fears aren’t valid. This is an issue I have dealt with in my first term as State Representative in West and Southwest Philadelphia. It’s important that we implement road safety measures while also holding developers accountable to considering the needs of the existing community. There are lots of developments that make parking and road safety harder and worse, when in reality these issues can be solved together. When there are projects that take those concerns into consideration and have good and equitable solutions to them, we can bring those to the residents and hold this tension. It’s an important tension to hold, and an important conversation to continue engaging with as we will continue to see development in our neighborhoods. We live in a world where development happens and we don’t have the power to stop it, but do have the power to make it as equitable as possible.

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? (



Absolutely. Roosevelt Blvd is the most dangerous road in Philadelphia, contributing to a large percentage of the city’s traffic deaths. It is so important for us to implement and expand speed enforcement and use the technology at our disposal to prioritize the most highly impacted areas.

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? (



Yes, and I think that it’s important to make sure that we simultaneously invest in public transportation systems. Many people in Philadelphia drive because of delays or inefficiency in SEPTA’s service. We should be providing opportunities to encourage use of public transportation and to deter the use of cars. This is a public health issue and also an environmental justice issue. As one of the nation’s largest cities, and also one of the cities experiencing the worst traffic congestion, it’s important for us to be finding new opportunities to encourage transportation infrastructure that acts in the interest of our vision for a Green New Deal.

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?(

We should not be relying so heavily as a society on individual choices in reducing our collective greenhouse gas emissions. In advancing our vision for a Green New Deal, we need to be holding corporations and the wealthy accountable, who are responsible for the large majority of these emissions. We cannot assume that working people of Philadelphia will be able to afford to purchase new electric vehicles. I believe the solutions to combating our out-of-control greenhouse gas emissions are by increasing taxation on corporations and investing in our public infrastructure and transportation, along with Vision Zero and the other public safety measures discussed in this questionnaire. This also includes implementing policies that encourage the use of public transportation and deter car dependence. Furthermore, we must invest in complete streets with protected bike lanes so that pedestrians and bicyclists are protected.

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? (


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? (

I broadly support implementing policies that move us to economically strong systems that encourage reliance on renewable and energy efficient sources of transportation. I’m open to many different policies that incentivize these important shifts in the way that we as a society engage with transportation, and I also believe that we need to be pragmatic and figure out solutions that are achievable in our current political environment. We are in an urgent climate crisis that demands that we take any and all steps necessary to achieve a Green New Deal.

8 (b). Should our commonwealth continue to fund highway expansion projects as a means to combat congestion?

No. I believe that highway expansion projects subsidize urban sprawl, which divests money from our cities and suburbs. We must first invest in necessary improvements to our existing crumbling infrastructure.

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 should immediately make SEPTA fares $1, and put ourselves on a path to making public transportation free. I believe that we should also invest in complete streets which include protected bike lanes and reserved bus lanes. By increasing taxation on corporations and the wealthy, we can invest in SEPTA to increase services and provide more Philadelphians with accessible and energy-efficient options for their commute. I have increased mobility in my own district by supporting concerned community members in reinstating a trolley stop at 47th and Woodland. The stop was removed 5 years ago due to safety concerns on the Westbound side, but unfortunately the Eastbound side stop was also removed, causing mobility and access issues for many residents. Residents such as my friend Ms. Jackie Owens have been organizing for years to reinstate this stop, but they had difficulty gaining traction. I worked with them to run a successful campaign to reinstate this stop earlier this year.


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? (


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? (


10 (c). How would you propose raising the necessary funds for Pennsylvania's public transit going forward?

Pennsylvania has a wealth of corporations and businesses that are being subsidized by the government, instead of being taxed fairly. There are plenty of options to raise the necessary revenue to transform Pennsylvania’s transit system. This includes a wealth tax, a capital gains tax, closing the Delaware loophole in tandem with a corporate tax, and reforming the Pennsylvania tax code so it is progressive instead of a flat rate.

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? (


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?

I believe that SEPTA deserves significant investment and improvement. I also believe that it is important to be intentional about how these funds are prioritized. This redevelopment process should be executed and led by community members who are directly impacted and who utilize SEPTA’s services the most. West and Southwest Philadelphia are in desperate need of infrastructure improvements to trolley stops, and we need an increase in bus stops as well. As stated above, I have worked with community members to advocate to SEPTA about their needs and to reinstitute an important trolley stop. It is important to hold government agencies like SEPTA accountable, and I am prepared to use my unique position as State Representative to organize with and lift up the voices of those who have been fighting for improvements for decades.

12. Do you support dedicated bus and trolley lanes and legislation enabling automated enforcement cameras to deter other vehicles from using these lanes? (



Absolutely. The use of public transportation should be rewarded, and we should push to make public transportation as fast and reliable as possible. Furthermore, I will always support legislation that deters the use of individual cars.

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?

I am in support of increasing transit infrastructure and would like SEPTA to have more coverage and frequency in our city and surrounding counties. I am also in support of free public transportation, and a step towards that would be eliminating transfer fees. I believe these improvements should be funded by progressive taxation: a wealth tax, a capital gains tax, closing the Delaware loophole in tandem with a corporate tax, and reforming the Pennsylvania tax code so it is progressive instead of a flat rate. This will exponentially increase the amount of revenue the state has at its disposal.

Land Use

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? (



No. Philadelphia has a large housing stock that could be repurposed for affordable housing for renters and homeowners. Right now there isn’t any incentive or regulations to incentivize this, and therefore we’re not building affordable housing. It’s currently very easy for developers to get a zoning approval. The issue isn’t restrictive zoning laws but the fact that there are no policies in place that incentivize affordable housing. We generally have a pro-business, pro-development environment in Philadelphia and we as a city need to do better to implement policies that can keep housing stock affordable and incentivize the development of affordable development that doesn’t rely on tax credits. We need to stop relying on the loss of tax revenue as a way to incentivize affordable housing.

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? (



I am generally against state preemption because I believe that local municipalities should have local control over development. However, I am in support of the state implementing policies broadly that would allow for more regulation around community-centered development.

16. If elected, what will you do to make housing, both market-rate and subsidized, more affordable?

The government should be providing support to working people in ensuring that housing is affordable. I am proud to be working with Senator Nikil Saval to draft a Whole Homes Repair Bill which will provide funding for homeowners to stay in their homes. This is an anti-gentrification bill because it ensures that homes are safe and updated, so that long-term residents can remain in place. We also have to invest millions of dollars into affordable housing development. PHA needs to have more support to be an effective agency. Furthermore, I believe that we should be holding landlords and real estate developers accountable. We need municipal policy that doesn’t give carte blanche to developers. We need to involve community agreements as part of new housing development.

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? (


17 (b). What efforts will your office take to ensure seniors can age in place?

I believe that it is important for homeowners to be able to rent out parts of their property, as well as allow other family members, often seniors, to reside in their home. However, I also think that it’s important to ensure that we regulate and preempt how real estate developers can take advantage of ADUs to increase housing supply while also decreasing affordability. We need a Homes Guarantee in PA. In West Philadelphia, we see that gentrification means rising rent, property tax and cost of living is forcing long time neighbors to leave their homes and close their businesses. This epidemic has hit Black homeowners the hardest, removing one of the opportunities Black families have to accumulate wealth in our city. Of course, this affects seniors in significant ways, because many of them are reliant on a small fixed income to meet their needs. During my first term in office, I have introduced and am the prime sponsor of HB767, which would prioritize mortgage modification over the payment of municipal liens on the property, allowing families to stay in their homes longer and focus on what’s best for their families. Just this past month, along with my colleagues Rep. Fiedler and Rep. Innamorato, we introduced legislation calling for an additional $500 million in American Rescue Plan dollars to be allocated to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Programs like these are vital to ensuring working families have at least a basic safety net that will support them in staying in their homes.

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? (


18 (b). Why or why not?

I believe we need to treat the opioid crisis as a public health issue, not a crime. I am in support of safe injection sites, though they must be implemented in a way that includes community input and consent. In addition to safe injection sites we need resources for people like mental health treatment, job opportunities, and housing. Addiction often occurs because of underlying issues so we must identify and address them. We must also hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for its profiteering off of opioid usage as they knowingly contributed to this crisis.

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? (



I fully support RGGI as a necessary step in protecting our environment and moving away from fossil fuels.

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 a State Representative with an organizing background, I am ready to organize my colleagues and fight for what my district and the Commonwealth deserves. In my first term, I have used my position to advance progressive ideology and policies in the capitol. This means that I am prepared to step outside of the progressive bubble and find common values that my colleagues and I share. I am prepared to continue to shift the narrative statewide about the need for advancing public transit and housing infrastructure. I know that fighting for our progressive visions takes a movement of all of us, and I am prepared to do the work that is needed to continue expanding the left. As a multiracial Black man raised by a single mother, I know what it means to feel powerless. Throughout my life, I’ve experienced the realities and trauma of racism, white supremacy, capitalism, the war on drugs, and housing insecurity. I’ve faced all these things and still face them today. I am committed to working in coalition with organizations across the state to build a world in which everyone can thrive.