Philadelphia’s City Council election is right around the corner, and Rue Landau, Democratic candidate for City Council-at-Large, aims to break barriers.
Landau held a press conference with the Loquitur reporters on March 10. An attorney who spent part of her career representing low-income tenants in Philadelphia at Community Legal Services and Executive Director of Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and Fair Housing Commission, Landau discussed some of her campaign promises and fielded questions from current Cabrini students.
Landau grew up in the Cheltenham Township just outside Philadelphia, and graduated from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in 1998. Since then, she has spent her career as an activist for marginalized citizens.
Landau is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, famously receiving the first same-sex Pennsylvania marriage license back in 2014. If elected, she will be the first openly LGBTQ+ city council member in Philadelphia.
Her main campaign platform is prioritizing community solutions to gun violence, increasing investments in neighborhoods, and improving affordable housing. She spoke in depth to the class about how she plans to turn these promises into action.
Challenges facing Philly
Many Cabrini students are Philadelphia voters. Sophomore communication major and Loquitur reporter, Jedidah Antwi grew up outside Philadelphia and says as a public school student she saw firsthand the economic disadvantages some schools have over others.
She asked, “How do you plan to combat underfunded public schools and the rate of students leaving for charter schools?”
Landau criticized the current model of school funding.
“To me, the number one solution for everything we’re looking at now is to lift up the schools and every student in the schools,” said Landau. “The current funding model is inequitable and needs to be changed.”
Pennsylvania’s current model is based on property taxes. Because of this, lower-income schools receive less money than higher-income schools.
Landau, whose own son attends public school in Philadelphia, said she isn’t a fan of charter schools, but understands why certain communities use them to give their children better opportunities.
On the topic of school resources and underfunding, Landau noted an initiative to help teachers and students better deal with violent incidents. “I want to teach conflict resolution and de-escalation tactics to every person in every school,” Landau said. “So, by the time they are 16 years old, they are not reaching for a gun to solve problems but actually have more tools in their toolboxes.”
She also wants to implement mental health crisis response teams who can properly support those in need of help. “We need to make sure that when someone is having a mental health crisis, we’re sending out the proper team to handle it and not calling the police in that situation,” Landau said. “They are not equipped to handle that situation and reduce it.”
She believes these mental health response teams are a lifelong investment in the city of Philadelphia.
In addition to her public education platforms, Landau has plans for city’s homeless population. Her professional history affects her perspective on helping low-income families avoid eviction.
“I personally believe that our entire model of housing homeless folks has to change,” Landau said. She also said the city’s homeless population was “large and growing.” However, according to Philadelphia’s 2022 point-in-time count, it’s homeless population decreased by 22% in the past five years.
Landau said she hopes that if elected, she can continue to keep the homeless population of Philadelphia in decline.
All eyes on election day
This press conference was a great way for students to experience a press pool, get involved in the campaign process, and learn about how Landau’s stances may align with their values in a field of more than 30 candidates.
“I thought that the conversation was very informative about the issues involved in the Philadelphia area and how Landau plans to address them,” said Jake Cavanaugh, Loquitur reporter and junior communication major. “This gives me the confidence that politicians care about our needs and will put our votes to good use.”
Landau’s campaign has the endorsement of the Philadelphia Democrats, Victory Fund, and U.S. Representative Dwight Evans. Along with these endorsements, her outreach to the community gives her confidence in moving forward toward election day.
“I’ve got a great path to victory,” Landau said.
The election is on Nov. 7, 2023.