Let me give you an inside scoop on how I, Ya Fav Trashman, plan to become “Ya Fav Councilmember,” and what I want to do when I get there.
I am running for City Council At-Large in May 2023 because with Philadelphia in the hunt for a new mayor, now is the time for change. Adding my unique perspective to the city’s decision-making table would really push Philadelphia forward. I believe some of the best solutions are simple and tangible, even when they’re hard.
I’ve done hard things before
Just two years ago, I was a sanitation worker on the front lines during the pandemic. In a time when trash collection was close to five days behind, with the understanding of how important transparency and communication are, I was able to create a movement that not only advocated for sanitation workers but also shined a light on the importance of trash collection. When a space inside of a neighborhood is cleaned and/or greened, crime around the space goes down. In fact, according to a 2018 study done by Dr. Eugenia South of Penn Medicine, in spaces that have been cleaned and greened, crime is reduced by 30 percent.
Understanding how to get Philly clean is important. I know how to do this. My nonprofit has picked up over 500 tons of trash off the streets of Philadelphia over the last two years. But, it’s still not enough. I want to be on Council to expand my efforts with the support of local government, the Streets Department, and even the state.
How will I do it? I’ll use and improve what we have already. For example, illegal dumping is out of control in Philadelphia. I want to use the money that City Councilmember Jaime Gauthier already got in the budget for the Streets Department ($30 million) and create an Illegal Dumping Task Force. The task force would have its own number for you to call, so we wouldn’t have to bother the police with trash problems. The task force would have its own crews — trash cops. The department would also hire employees to put cameras up in well-known dumping sites, and a team that will monitor them to catch people in the act. This could create more than 1,000 City jobs and address the dumping problem … with money that’s already been assigned to the Streets Department.
This is how I work. I do things that yield tangible results sooner rather than later through simple, out-of-the-box, supported-by-facts, community-inclusive, works-for-everyone ideas.
More than just trash
There’s so much that needs to be done in Philly. We need alternative learning options for children who don’t think and learn like other children. One of my kids is on the autism spectrum, and he suffered so much without in-person learning. We need to get help for kids like him. We know how to. We just need to do it.
I believe small businesses are the gateway to keeping Philadelphia moving forward. The more we support small businesses, the more they can support the communities that they are in — and shift the paradigms of their neighborhoods. They provide jobs. They provide stability. People who are working in their communities are not shooting each other over drugs. They’re not robbing cars. They’re earning an honest living.
I think real estate is how we can really get the city to flourish. Philadelphia is mismanaging its real estate assets. There’s so much unused land here, so much opportunity for Philadelphia developers to use these unused spaces for affordable housing.
If we were to create a pipeline, a system where honest developers and real estate people — here in the city, not outside of Philadelphia — could get properties without giving their blood, everyone would benefit. I talk to developers here all the time, and they are frustrated. It’s so hard for Philadelphia developers to get land to build good, affordable homes on. There are too many outside developers taking advantage of our assets. We need to make that easier for locals.
I’m somebody who doesn’t mind going outside of Philly to bring back great ideas. I’m heading to Chicago soon to learn about a program there that puts recording studios and content creation rooms in public libraries. Kids can go there after school and learn to engineer rap music and to do video production and things like that. It’s not just an outlet for them to express themselves or have fun. It’s also a way for them to learn to work together. It’s conflict resolution. It’s also training them on a skill.
Philly kids need libraries to be open longer hours. They need better rec centers. They need real resources, places to go in their neighborhoods — and, they need their representatives in their neighborhoods, asking what they want and need, not acting on their own observations and judgments.
The younger generation feels like the older generation doesn’t care about them at all. We need to meet them where they are. We have to get into our neighborhoods, to bring everyone into the conversation.
I have ideas for Kensington. I have ideas for high school training programs. I know I’m most known for my cleanup platform, but I am 100 percent committed to making this city better everywhere, for everyone.
My community campaign
With that being said, I know I have to make sure that more than just my Instagram followers know who I am. I want the whole city to know — and vote for — me. That’s why I have decided to make sure I stay in the community throughout my campaign. I’ve started a listening tour where I will be visiting small businesses and inviting people from that district to come and tell me what they think City Council can do moving forward to make Philadelphia better.
I’m not waiting to get to work either. I’ve already met with all four new City Councilmembers. I’ve signed up for situational training with the Philadelphia Police Department, so I can get a full perspective of what’s going on there. I am lining up new tour spots every day. (Hit me up if you want me to come out to your business or neighborhood.)
I want everyone to feel like I’m someone that they can trust to speak for them at the decision-making table and know that I will not back down when it comes to making life better for every single Philadelphian.
Word on the street is that there’s going to be about 50 people running for City Council At-Large, which means that people in Philadelphia really want a change. I believe I’m the change Philly needs. I am a grassroots organizer that loves this city. I want my three children to inherit a Philadelphia that they will be proud to call home. It’s time to make Philadelphia clean and safe. That is why I’m going from sanitation to City Council.
Terrell Haigler, one of The Citizen’s Generation Change Philly fellows, is running for City Council-at-large in 2023. We welcome guest commentary from community members, including candidates for office, who stipulate to the best of their ability that it is fact-based and non-defamatory.
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