HomeAsian AmericansHelen Gym could be Philly’s 1st Asian American female mayor

Helen Gym could be Philly’s 1st Asian American female mayor

Helen Gym, an activist, City Council member, and teacher, could become the first female Asian American mayor of Philadelphia. According to BillyPen, Gym has cracked the top 3 in the polls.

The first independent public poll showed that the race is tight. Rebecca Rhynhart, the former city controller, leads the pack with 18% saying she is their candidate. Behind Rhynhart is former city council member Cherelle Parker with 17%. Gym took the third spot with 15%.

At a recent editorial board meeting with The Philadelphia Tribune, Gym emphasized her commitment to improving the quality of life for the city’s residents, distinguishing herself from other candidates who may simply be seeking office.

During her tenure as a Council member, Gym actively championed crucial legislation such as eviction moratoriums during the pandemic, ensuring access to clean water in schools, and establishing mobile mental health units for crisis response.

“Safer communities are ones that are clean and vibrant,” Gym said, according to The Philadelphia Tribune. “Safe youth are those who are educated and supported year-round and safe neighbors are ones who believe that housing, health care and real economic opportunities are a right and that’s what mayors have to deliver.”

Gym has proposed declaring a state of emergency on gun violence as a means to address the issue comprehensively. Her plan involves coordinating mental health services and other resources to combat violence effectively. Gym believes that the root cause of violence in the city is disinvestment, emphasizing the need to invest in order to ensure safety. She has outlined a comprehensive approach, including a $10 billion investment to modernize schools, which she refers to as a “new deal.”

Additionally, Gym aims to provide guaranteed summer jobs for teenagers in specific areas, implement literacy coaches in schools, and enhance efforts to combat truancy.

Gym made history in 2015 when she was elected to City Council, becoming the first Asian-American woman to hold that position. However, in 2022, she resigned from City Council to pursue her mayoral candidacy. It is worth noting that Philadelphia has never had a female mayor.

Gym resides in Center City, which is also the home of other mayoral candidates such as Jeff Brown, whose family is involved in the supermarket business, Allan Domb, a prominent real estate mogul, and Rebecca Rhynhart, a former city controller.

According to the Philadelphia Tribune, Gym’s mayoral campaign has garnered significant support from various labor unions and organizations. Among her backers are prominent groups like the Working Families Party, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, UNITE HERE Philadelphia, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees-District Council 47, AFT Pennsylvania, Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, and Teamsters BMWED. These endorsements reflect Gym’s appeal and alignment with the interests and values of these influential organizations.

Gym’s campaign, supported by these organizations, has set an ambitious goal of door-knocking hundreds of thousands of households in the lead-up to the May 16 election, which is deemed “unprecedented” for a Philadelphia mayoral race, according to the BillyPenn.

The campaign plans to mobilize over 1,000 volunteers who will visit over 300,000 addresses across the city. This effort spans 46 out of Philadelphia’s 66 wards, highlighting the extensive grassroots engagement and organizational reach of Gym’s campaign.

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