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We at Billy Penn love neighborhoods. It’s beyond cliche to call Philadelphia a “city of neighborhoods” (as opposed to the cities that… aren’t?) but we index them and we feature them because they’re essential to its very existence.
Now come the candidates vying for the Mayor of this city. In order to gain that office, the city’s Home Rule Charter mandates they actually live in the city for a period of three years. All of them have called at least one Philly neighborhood home. Being mayor is a big job, especially when a million and a half people are involved. But when you look at the mayor’s race through the prism of the neighborhoods of its candidates, the focus narrows. The issues go from abstract to very, very concrete. So here’s how the race looks through the places these candidates call home, according to recent public filings: Lynne Abraham, Nelson Diaz, Jim Kenney, Doug Oliver, Milton Street and Anthony Williams.
Lynne Abraham – Society Hill
Neighborhood snapshot: Since its reinvigoration in the 1970s, Society Hill has housed many of the city’s wealthiest residents and boasts some of the highest rents and home values in Philly. While its share of people aged 20-to-34 is barely under the city total of 26 percent, that number has declined in recent years. It is largely a neighborhood for older people and families and also features a large Jewish population.
Population 20-34: 1,425 (24.9 percent)
Median home value: Over $500K
Rent vs. own: 1,331 vs. 1,998
Drivers vs. public transit users: 1,345 vs. 797
Crime rate per 1,000 people over six months: 13.85
Schools in the neighborhood: St. Mary Interparochial School, General George A McCall School, St. Peter’s School, Chesterbrook Academy
Candidate connection? Society Hill Towers PAC contributed $500 to Abraham’s campaign in January, according to Abraham’s most recent filing.
What the neighborhood wants from its next mayor: It’s pretty simple for the Society Hill Civic Association. President Bob Curley said the community wants the essentials: Better schools, responsive police and fire departments and safety.
Nelson Diaz – Chestnut Hill
Neighborhood snapshot: Chestnut Hill is in Philadelphia’s northwest corner, on the edge of the county line. Home to
St. Joseph’s University Chestnut Hill College, it’s long been one of Philadelphia’s most popular neighborhoods for families, featuring room for big houses and yards, minus the cookie-cutter feel of the suburbs.
Population 20-34: 1,956 (22.3 percent)
Median home value: $495,100
Rent vs. own: 1,931 vs. 1,839
Drivers vs. public transit users: 2,971 vs. 1,037
Crime rate per 1,000 people over six months: 10.94
Schools in the neighborhood: John Jenks School, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, The Crefeld School, Norwood-Fontbonne Academy
Jim Kenney – East Passyunk
Note: Public records show Kenney now lives in Old City, but spent the majority of his life in South Philadelphia and East Passyunk
Neighborhood snapshot: Located east of Broad Street in South Philadelphia, East Passyunk is probably most widely known for having one of the most famous strips of restaurants in the city. But the area has boomed in recent years, seeing an influx of millennials and now features one of the city’s most robust mixes of old Philly swagger and new Philly changes.
Population 20-34: 8,002 (30 percent)
Median home value: $250,000
Rent vs. own: 4,627 to 6,042 or 43.4 percent to 56.6 percent
Drivers vs. public transit users: 5,281 vs. 3,981 or 57 percent vs. 43 percent
Crime rate per 1,000 people over six months: 14.19
Schools in the neighborhood: South Philadelphia High School, Ss. Neumann and Goretti Catholic School, Andrew Jackson School, Kirkbride School, Southwark School
Is the candidate involved? For the members of the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association, Jim Kenney is pretty much the man. Joseph F. Marino, co-chair of the group’s board of directors, said Kenney — a now-former at-large city councilman — attended the group’s first community meeting nine years ago and has had a presence ever since. Marino noted that Kenney often stays in the background and allows the neighbors to make decisions, but Marino recalled that after the association’s first organizing meeting, Kenney approached him and said: “I like your style. You’re like a benevolent dictator.”
What the neighborhood wants from its next mayor: Marino said members of the civic association and neighbors have expressed their biggest concern, and it’s not all that unique: Education.
“I don’t think there’s a Philadelphian who’s not concerned about how our education system is working,” Marino said. “Everything from grade schools and librarians to higher degrees, colleges students, graduates and doctoral degree students.”
He added that neighborhood members are also of course concerned with crime rates, trash, recycling and streets — “the same issues every citizen is concerned about” — but educations falls highest on that list.
Doug Oliver – East Oak Lane
Neighborhood snapshot: East Oak Lane is a North Philadelphia neighborhood that falls between Olney and Cheltenham. The area east of Broad Street’s claim to fame is that it was William Penn’s first neighborhood in 1683, but it’s now known as being a racially and ethnically diverse area that’s home to mostly single-family houses and rowhomes.
Population 20-34: 1,517 or 17 percent
Median home value: $141,100
Rent vs. own: Households: 1,738 vs. 1,684, or 51 percent vs. 49 percent
Drivers vs. public transit users: 2,397 vs. 821 or 74 percent vs. 26 percent
Crime rate per 1,000 people over six months: 12.1
Schools in the neighborhood: Ellwood School, Hope Church School, Eugenia Maria De Hostos Charter School
Milton Street – Mayfair
Neighborhood snapshot: Tucked away in Philadelphia’s Northeast corner, Mayfair is a working-class neighborhood home to many families who have lived there for generations.
Population 20-34: 5,765 (23.6 percent)
Median home value: $127,800
Rent vs. own: 2,777 vs. 4,959
Drivers vs. public transit users: 8,476 vs. 1,589
Crime rate per 1,000 people over six months: 15.04
Schools in the neighborhood: Mayfair School, Brown Joseph H School, Allen Ethan School, Meehan Austin Middle School, Lincoln High School, St. Matthew School, Father Judge High School
Candidate connection? Ask even a politically-involved Mayfair resident about Street and he or she will likely have no idea Street lives in the neighborhood. He’s only been living there since his release from prison in 2010 on misdemeanor tax evasion and is originally from Conshohocken. Street has often listed another address in Moorestown, N.J., and on his most recent campaign finance report included an expenditure for a car mechanic in Moorestown.
What the neighborhood wants from its next mayor: Mainly attention. “I hope that whoever it is who comes into office doesn’t forget about Mayfair,” said Donny Smith, president of the Mayfair Civic Association. “It seems as though Center City specifically seems to get a lot of attention and funding whereas the further away from the city it gets, the less attention you get.”
Smith specifically wants city leaders to pay more attention to Mayfair community meetings. He said that Mayfair residents will often come out and discuss stances on issues affecting Mayfair but are not able to attend City Council hearings because of job obligations. At the City Council hearings, he said, they’ll sometimes make decisions about Mayfair the community publicly disapproved at its own meetings.
Anthony Williams – Cobbs Creek
Neighborhood snapshot: This West Philly neighborhood bound by Market Street to the north and Baltimore Avenue to the south is sometimes known as “southside” because of its proximity to southwest Philadelphia. The neighborhood is named after the creek that borders its western side, an 11.8-mile long tributary. Today, the neighborhood is a predominantly black community with community attractions that include the Cobbs Creek Golf Course and the Cobbs Creek Park.
Population 20-34: 4,878 or 21.6 percent
Median home value: $73,100
Rent vs. own: 3,579 vs. 4,594 or 44 percent vs. 56 percent
Drivers vs. public transit users: 3,427 vs. 3,759 or 47 percent vs. 53 percent
Crime rate per 1,000 people over six months: 28.5
Schools in the neighborhood: Boys Latin of Philadelphia Charter School, Mastery Charter-Harrity Campus, Hamilton Andrew School, Bryant William C School, Anderson Add B School, Huey Samuel B School, Sayre William L Middle School, Harrity William F School, St. Cyprian Catholic School, Sanctuary Christian Academy, Philadelphia Christian Academy, Faith Connection Christian Academy
Candidate connection? Anthony Williams is a West Philly guy through and through, and dedicates much of his political stature to giving back to his roots. Peruse his Senate website, and you’ll find events the now-mayoral candidate holds on a regular basis in Cobbs Creek, ranging from resume building workshops to Earth Day clean-up events.