• Brian Dries

Philadelphia Seeks Civic-Minded Presidential Partner to Move Forward

The city may have found its mate, so to speak, with a new administration that values its agenda and goals.


Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

Wanted: A large U.S. Northeast city seeks a national leader to work with its municipal government and support its many programs to address important issues and move the economy forward.


While the 2020 Presidential Election outcome shouldn’t be compared to an online dating ad (although, would that really surprise anyone?), Philadelphia is always looking for some love—and it’s long overdue.

Whether through email, text, online chat, swipe right, or the old-fashioned dial by phone, Philadelphia needs a date with the country’s administration-elect. The connection is well deserved, considering Philadelphia’s voter turnout helped seal the election and allowed the Biden-Harris campaign to officially celebrate. (Break out graf)


Why is there a need to make an immediate connection?


President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris bring a civic-minded background to the country that can greatly benefit Philadelphia’s agenda and goals. Unfortunately, those political platforms and issues were rarely center stage throughout the campaign. But, Biden and Harris have decades of government experience. The support Philadelphia needs from D.C. is already part of the Biden-Harris Administration playbook.


Philadelphia’s leaders know the election doesn’t mean an instant flip of the switch that makes the challenges facing the city disappear. The city’s elected officials, business leaders, and community stakeholders are already making great strides and funding commitments to tackle major issues. Their efforts and actions have been in motion for years – no matter who sat in the Oval Office.


Philadelphia knows there is a lot of hard work ahead, and the new administration can help pave a path forward that will benefit residents and businesses. A civic-minded administration is a perfect match. It provides the opportunity for a collaborative partnership and the ability for local leaders to access the necessary support to push initiatives across the finish line.


Philadelphia carries some baggage in this relationship.


Public safety is always the top priority. Currently, Philadelphia is experiencing record-setting homicide rates that continue to climb. Gun violence is the focal point, but there’s only so much the city can do to get illegal guns off the street. In October 2020, Philadelphia officials filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth to allow for stronger gun safety laws in the city. While Philadelphia takes on the state, the new administration in D.C. can provide avenues worth exploring that can make an impact, maintaining citizens’ rights while addressing the violence that has taken the lives of more than 1,700 residents over the last five years.


Along with crime, Philadelphia also has the highest poverty rate among the top 10 largest U.S. cities. Twenty-five percent of its 1.6 million residents live in poverty. This is a staggering figure, and the city has barely been able to move the needle in the right direction.


Officials have taken bold measures recently that go beyond just analyzing the issue and implemented actions to remove those who have been stuck in poverty their entire lives. This includes alleviating some of the tax burdens – eliminating the city’s wage tax for low-income people and families, and establishing a public-private fund with sustainable dollars to pay for anti-poverty programs and services. With additional support from Washington, the local efforts could be amplified and result in significantly reducing the number of Philadelphians living in poverty.


Those who already faced financial hardships prior to the pandemic are now realizing even more challenges from job losses in industries such as hospitality and tourism that have been crippled over the last nine months. Philadelphia officials have taken swift actions to provide local support to greatly impacted businesses, helping to keep their doors open and residents employed.


While many businesses have successfully adapted to the new environment with health and safety as a top priority, new leadership in Washington can provide additional support through additional stimulus funding opportunities and practical health guidance that residents and businesses can trust. As businesses learn to establish best practices, government must be with them every step of the way and be part of regular discussions with industry leaders.


The issues listed above are just scratching the surface of Philadelphia’s current agenda. Education, affordable housing, economic equality and inclusion, criminal justice reform, business attraction and retention, tax structure reform, and many items must be addressed concurrently – to move Philadelphia forward. These issues require a new way of thinking, which will require a civic-minded partner providing support from the top.


Philadelphia is ready and well-positioned for a long-term beneficial relationship with the White House. It’s been overdue.


The results of the recent presidential election can greatly benefit Philadelphians by having a voice that will listen to their causes and needs.


If not for anything else, the city can stop swiping left when seeking a new partner.

Brian Dries is a Director in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.

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