You may not know his name yet, but it seems Anthony Phillips’ lock on a Democratic Party endorsement for city council was never in doubt.
Five days before Phillips is officially appointed by District 9 Ward Leaders to replace Cherelle Parker after she quit to run for mayor of Philadelphia, he was among the crowd at her 50th birthday party at the Rivers Casino. Parker persuaded him on stage – and in the spotlight.
“Anthony Phillips, come here!” said Parker, as she invited a crowd of the chosen ones onto the platform at the September party, a see-and-be-seen event for local movers.
Sometimes the selection of candidates for special elections in Philadelphia is hectic and requires heavy hyperlocal organization, as in the case of Quetcy Lozada, District 7 candidatechosen to replace Maria Quiñones Sánchez in the seat of the city council representing the North Philly area around Kensington.
Other neighborhoods moved with a little more unity. The selection of Phillips to appear in the November 8 ballot was unanimous, with a clear mandate from Parker.
Her words about Phillips the night of her party were telling.
“When I gave my letter to the big guy,” Parker began, referring to the handing over of his resignation from the Council to Council President Darrell Clarke, “I thought long and hard, worked with every parish leader …So you know we’ve been working on that. [Phillips is] one of the best and brightest in our community and he cares about people, so I want you all to remember his name.
That name is now on the Philadelphia District 9 ballots. He appears alongside Republican candidate Roslyn Ross and Libertarian Party candidate Yusuf Jackson, but Phillips is seen as a shoo-in to win the seat.
So who is Phillipsand why was he the fugitive choice?
Early involvement in civic life
Phillips, 33, has lived in Mt. Airy since he was 8 years old. His family moved from another part of North Philly in search of crime safety and higher-rated schools, he said – around the various“middle neighborhoodsvarious elected officials in Northwest Philadelphia talk about protecting and nurturing.
“When I moved to Mount Airy, what it meant to me was an opportunity to have a lawn, to have good schools and finally to have an opportunity,” Phillips told Billy Penn. “It pretty much shone a light on the American Dream.”
Phillips pointed to his family’s “hard work, courage and sacrifice” as traits he tries to emulate, which he saw both in his grandmother’s experience as a sharecropper in South Carolina and in her mother’s dedication to funding her education.
A longtime social worker and head of the Department of Social Services, her mother also worked nights at Walmart to pay for Phillips and her sisters’ education; Phillips attended La Salle High School, a preparatory school for Montco Catholic College.
She also taught him how to be a neighbor. After his mother made introductions, you would regularly find him on porches in front of a checkerboard, he recalls, face down, entertaining and learning from his older neighbors.
Youth Action, the leadership development nonprofit of which Phillips has been executive director since 2010, was the end product of a program supported by Tavis Smiley. national black youth leadership development summit held in 2003.
Phillips attended the summit aged 14, then co-founded the organization bring back his teachings at home and foster civic engagement, according to the Youth Action website.
Through these different activities, Philips experienced what he now considers an act of investment: “They taught me very early on what can happen when you have a community, as well as your parents, who really invest in you. and ensure you are positioning yourself for excellence.”
Phillips enrolled in the African American Studies programs at Bates College in Maine, then studied for a short time at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He continued his master’s degree in black religion at Yale and is now on his way to earning a doctorate in philosophy with a concentration in African American studies at UMass Amherst.
Four years ago, he received a call from neighbors telling him about a role as a member of an open committee in the 50th arrondissement. A few days later, a call came from the parish leader.
“I got a call from Parker, then a board member, who said, ‘Anthony, if you’re interested in being on a committee, we’d love to have you. You are going to be great for our community,” he said. “She knew me growing up in the community because I had always been the person who organized youth programs in our area.”
If Phillips wins in November, he will run for re-election in 2023 – and could face a major challenge. Janay Hawthornewho ran for the Pa. House 200th District seat last spring, but was disqualified before the vote, confirmed to Billy Penn that she was considering a race.
Focus on policies that help “children”
At a campaign launch event in early October, Phillips invoked a saying from the Maasai tribe of Kenya – their greeting of “How are the children?”
“It’s the belief that if you put children at the forefront of your community, you can focus enough on policies and decisions that will be for the greater good of the community,” he told the small rally at Tarken Playground in Oxford Circle attended by At-Large Board Member Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Pennsylvania Representative Jordan Harris, the House Democratic Whip.
One issue that preoccupies young people in Philadelphia is the curfew for minors becoming permanent. Some studies have shown that adolescents curfews are ineffective in the fight against violence, but in Phillips’ view, the policy is as much for parents as it is for children.
“What the city is trying to do is help parents understand the importance of [youth] be home at a specific time so the kids are safe,” he said, saying he would vote to keep the permanent curfew if he was in office.
Phillips also hopes to develop what he describes as “initiatives to increase parental and community involvement” in schools. If elected, he aims to coordinate with deeply integrated community members like block captains so they can share information about workshops, trainings and other events, encouraging families to attend and learn together. .
Jelani Hasan, now a 24-year-old deputy facilities manager at property company CBRE, witnessed the candidate’s investment in young people.
He has known Phillips since he was 12 when he joined Youth Action. He credits Phillips with helping him develop practical skills for finding and keeping a job, such as “professionalism, time management, project planning and coordination,” Hasan said.
Phillips made it clear that he thought Parker had left him with a solid foundation. There are some issues in his tenure that will ultimately be decided by the winner of the District 9 siege, such as a proposed district zoning overlay this Mayor Kenney recently vetoedwhich would be an early test of Phillips’ views on development in the district.
Phillips said he also wants to work towards greater intergenerational unity.
He currently serves as a bus driver for senior citizens who attend Salem Baptist Church, where he worships. It’s a role he will continue to take on weekends if elected, he said, to continue learning from alumni who have become “mentors.”
To Salem Baptist seniors who are excited about his run for office, Phillips said he had a simple request: “Don’t call me ‘advice-anything.’ Always call me your bus driver.