Kendra Brooks, the first Working Families Party candidate ever elected to Philadelphia City Council, is seeking a second term.
She has one of the two at-large spots reserved for non-majority party members, after an upset win in 2019 that was a shocking loss for Republicans, who’d long held the seat.
Brooks is running alongside fellow WFP candidate Nicolas O’Rourke. Since people can vote for five at-large candidates in the November election, Working Families is pushing for them to select Brooks, O’Rourke, and three Democrats. That’s raised the ire of Philly Democratic party chair Bob Brady, who says Democrats should only vote for their party’s candidates. He’s threatened to punish party committee members who support the WFP duo.
Brooks has nonetheless garnered endorsements from prominent Democrats, including Gov. Josh Shapiro, U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, councilmembers Jamie Gauthier and Isaiah Thomas, and several state legislators.
She’s also raised substantial sums for her campaign this year, far more than her GOP rivals. Brooks has so far raised about $406,000, while Republican Jim Hasher brought in $229,000 and Drew Murray reported $95,000. O’Rourke has raised $310,000.
The 51-year-old Brooks grew up in Nicetown and for 15 years was director of Easterseals Southeastern Pennsylvania, which provides services to people living with disabilities.
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Her political activism began with a successful effort to block conversion of her child’s school into a charter. She then got involved with groups like Parents United for Public Education and Our City, Our Schools.
On Council she’s been part of a small progressive bloc, along with Gauthier and former member Helen Gym. She worked to pass laws providing emergency paid sick leave for workers, creating a nationally recognized eviction diversion program, and funding mobile crisis response teams as an alternative to police.
A supporter of harm reduction strategies to reduce overdose deaths, Brooks was recently the only councilmember to vote against a bill banning supervised injection sites in most of the city.
“With a crisis this deadly, my focus is on finding the strategies that will prevent people from dying, and I can’t support permanently banning a tool that is proven to save lives,” she said in September.
In her second term, Brooks says she’ll continue her push for rent control laws, housing affordability programs, preservation of community gardens, environmental remediation of school buildings, and improved public transit and other green infrastructure, according to her campaign website.
Other priorities include protecting access to abortion and reproductive health services, and expanding voter access through policies like expanded voting rights for incarcerated people and more streamlined voting by mail.
Brooks’s campaign finance situation
Her most recent report shows she had $232,125 cash on hand. Between June and mid-September her campaign had access to about $352,000, including $193,000 raised during that period and $159,000 raised during the previous reporting period.