Strong leadership takes center stage in Derek Green’s 2023 Philly Mayoral run
The former at-large City Councilmember visited AL DÍA on Thurs., Jan. 26 to give his pitch to Philly voters, and offered his vision of taking the helm in 2024.
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2023 Philadelphia Mayoral candidate Derek Green was one of the earlier candidates to announce his bid. The former two-term at-large City Councilmember launched their campaign at the end of last Summer on Sept. 7, 2022, at ESPM barbershop in West Philadelphia.
Born and raised in Philly, Green received his bachelors from the University of Virginia in Philosophy and Communications, and attended law school at Temple University.
Aside from being an attorney, he was also an Assistant Branch Manager for Meridian Bank, Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Delaware Department of Justice, Deputy Solicitor for Philly, and Assistant District Attorney for Philadelphia.
Green is now running for city mayor because he feels that under a Green leadership, Philadelphia can be a city not only people outside of the city respect, but its own residents too.
On Thursday evening, Jan. 26, Green visited the AL DÍA offices for the second AL DÍA Talk of the year with 2023 Philly Mayoral candidates, to discuss his time on City Council, his decision to run, how to make Philly thrive, and gun violence.
Small businesses are one of the focal points of Green’s campaign as he can relate and empathize with the challenges they have historically and continue to face.
The Germantown native co-operated a small shoe store along with his wife Sheila, following Green’s graduation from Temple Law in 1998.
“Being a small business owner, it shows the real struggle that small businesses can be confronted with in our city, the regulations,” Green said.
The mayoral candidate cited talking to business owners, and other local and state leaders where they spoke of a website explaining how to start a business, and what is needed. Green compared it to the city’s current system in place — full of red tape.
“You have to get your business privilege license, your tax account. Then you got all the regulations just to run a business. I saw that firsthand and I imagine the challenges that business owners all around the city have and the struggle that you have to grow and have a profitable business in the city,” he said.
As a former business owner, and attorney, Green also believes it is time for the city to have a different kind of mayor who understands helping others before themselves.
“We need to have a mayor that understands what it's like to be on the payroll because when you're a business owner, you pay your employees, you pay your taxes, your insurance inventory and all the other expenses before you get paid,” Green said.
“All these issues are interconnected”
Just before starting his second term on City Council, Green said poverty was the city’s most important issue at the time, saying: “Everything goes through the prism of poverty, from criminal justice to housing to education to homelessness to food.”
It’s a lens through which he still views these problems.
“We're talking about small businesses and people not having the resources to start and grow their own. That's why I did the Public Bank initiative. People are not able to buy or invest in their homes, which impact the real estate taxes that go to our schools and our city, as well as the gun violence issue — so all these issues are interconnected,” he said.
But at the core of all the problems, according to Green, is the high poverty rate in the city where Statista in 2021, had Philly ranked number one with the worst percentage of people who live below the poverty line in the most populated U.S. cities.
“Poverty is the through line that runs through all of these issues. We as a city need to be in a job creation business, but family sustaining jobs, and we're not doing that. That's why so many citizens in the city feel frustrated that they can't do better,” he said.
Gun violence is one previously-mentioned by-product of poverty, and in Philadelphia more and more youth are becoming victims and perpetrators. Axios released a chart on Oct. 5, 2022, tracking youth violence in the city with information from city government figures.
Between 2019 and 2020, the pandemic year, it jumped from 119 to 197 in gun violence victims aged 18 and under, while in 2021 it was 213. In 2022, it decreased to 181.
When it comes to addressing public safety and the youth being caught up in it, many bring up investing more into after school programs and recreational centers, and Green says these are things that have been removed, and stresses their importance to keeping the youth off the streets and out of trouble.
“One of the big things we used to have that we got rid of, and we're talking about bringing back is our after school program. It helped manage and provided opportunities for young people who don't have the opportunity to do things after school. That's when they're being mentored, unfortunately, mentored in the wrong direction,” he said.
“But we got rid of a lot of those programs,” Green added.
He also spoke to the importance of rebuilding and strengthening the public-private partnership of the city and working with nonprofit providers to help them by providing a bigger network and more infrastructure for young people in the city.
According to Green, the infrastructure was gone even before COVID-19.
“We couldn't do anything because of the pandemic, but then we also got rid of a lot of things before the pandemic,” he said.
And with Philly homicides surpassing 500 for the second year in a row, Green says everyone needs to look themselves in the mirror.
“We're all accountable for the gun violence crisis in our city. But we also need to have leadership to show to the citizens how we can play a role to help address this issue,” he said. “As mayor, my goal is to have a 25% reduction of shootings in the first year. And I believe we can do that through presence, accountability, opportunity and investment.”
A Green Leadership
Throughout the length of the talk, Green also drove home the importance of strong leadership — something he says Philadelphia hasn’t had through all of its crises in the last two years. It’s something he wants to restore first and foremost.
“Leadership is making decisions. You're not always gonna make the right decision. But it's making a decision when it needs to be made and taking leadership, you make it with the best information you have at the time. People look to the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia for leadership, not just here in Philadelphia, but around the region around the Commonwealth,” Green said.
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