Winning formulas which have been successful in the past could result in Philadelphia having successful Councilwoman Helen Gym as mayor in 2024.
She is the first Asian-American woman to hold that office. She has sophisticated tools that she has used as a community organizer. She is also a journalist, a former schoolteacher, and a board member of Asian Americans United, a racial justice and advocacy group.
In the recently held primary elections, she obtained a plebiscite vote, not only as a sign of approval of her legislative initiatives, but also as a clear message that she has the conditions to become, after Jim Kenney’s last term in office, Philadelphia´s next Mayor.
An evident advantage
On May 21 elections, the Democrats backed her with the number of votes necessary to finish first in the race for the five seats on the City Council with 16 percent of the votes.
She got nearly 40 percent more votes than her closest competitor, Councilman Allan Domb, whose campaign costed four times more than Gym´s this year.
An extract from election reports and historical records states that when Helen Gym ran for the first time in 2015, this veteran education activist barely ranked fifth with 49,200 votes. Four years later, her popularity among Democratic voters seems to have doubled. On Tuesday, May 21, she got 107,000 votes in almost every neighborhood in the city, according to unofficial election results. She was first in 55 of the city’s 66 political districts.
And she became Mayor
A comment made by journalist Max Marin, an extraordinary editor of the local press, states that no councilman in general has performed as well as Gym in recent memory – “and the last time one came close, they went on to become mayor.”
“In the 2007 primary election, Mayor Jim Kenney claimed 95,389 votes, though the number isn’t directly comparable. Voter turnout that year was a full 10 percent higher than it was on Tuesday.”
Her ascending career is closely linked to the Fair Workweek Act, the largest piece of legislation of her first term. With this regulation, starting from 2021 a coherent program will be required for the 130,000 workers in the city services industry.
The Rizzo “push”
Her legislation project is based on achieving socio-political tools to create the conditions for a fair standard of living, especially for schoolchildren, to fight hunger, homelessness and poverty.
However, the event that launched her as a public figure has to do with the Unite the Right 2017 aftermath in Charlottesville, Virginia. Gym posted on Twitter: “All around the country, we´re fighting to remove the monuments to slavery and racism. Philly, we have work to do. Take the Rizzo statue down.”
Gym’s comments sparked a public debate about the future of the Frank Rizzo´s statue, a former Mayor of Philadelphia, who was a protagonist in promoting interracial conflicts.
Translated by: José Espinoza