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Meet Helen

I’m a mother, a teacher, a long-time community organizer, and I’m fighting for a Philadelphia that works for all of us.

I came to Philadelphia over 30 years ago, raised three children, and started my teaching career at Lowell Elementary School in Olney. I cut my teeth fighting mayors and developers who would take publicly funded land for private boondoggles like stadiums, casinos and for-profit charter schools.

Having grown up in an immigrant family, I know that public spaces are our best shot at an equal society. I depended on my public library, rec center and, of course, my public school to give me the opportunities I’d never have otherwise. That’s why I’ve been so fired up when public spaces go into decline: When a neighborhood park which should provide recreation and relaxation becomes an abandoned eyesore. When a public school closes down. When our streets feel unsafe and abandoned.

In the poorest large city in the U.S., we cannot afford to walk away from our collective responsibility to build the city we need and deserve.

Since coming into City Council in 2016, I’ve transformed the way we look at our politics and our policies. Just see some of our accomplishments below. My work is about strengthening communities and establishing a human rights agenda for everyone: a quality public school for every child, housing as a human right, a justice system that serves the common good, and the belief that one job should be enough.

So yes, you’ll see me in Harrisburg getting arrested for demanding our state legislature fund our schools. And you’ll also see me celebrating the best of Philadelphia by using our voices to bring joy and pride to our city, whether I’m honoring Philadelphia’s civil rights heroes or claiming our local NHL mascot as the non-binary leftist icon this world needs.

And I’m not slowing down. I’ve always believed that cities would define the progress of this nation. Because no matter what’s happening in D.C. or Harrisburg, this is still our Philadelphia.

From debt-free college to fair taxation, from safe and clean communities to a municipal Green New Deal, Philadelphia needs a champion who’s fighting for parents, working families, and Philadelphians everywhere.

Let’s make this happen together.

What We’ve Accomplished Together

Leading on Education and Youth

  • Led a 17-year movement to end the state takeover of our public schools
  • Restored nurses, counselors, social workers, arts & music programs, and clean water to every public school
  • Shut down abusive youth residential facilities like Glen Mills and helped lead on statewide reform of juvenile justice policies
  • Campaigned for and won free public transit for children
  • Defined new rights for trans and non-binary youth

Supporting Labor and Workers’ Rights

  • Passed the most expansive “Fair Workweek” law in the nation, ensuring protections for more than 130,000 hourly workers
  • Established a Department of Labor focused on workers’ rights and helping win workers tens of thousands of dollars in back wages.

Fighting for Racial, Housing, and Economic Justice

  • Led the first reform of the 10-year tax abatement, so it works better for school kids and our city
  • Established legal defense funds for tenants facing eviction and immigrants facing deportation 
  • Reduced evictions by 75% through a historic package of housing protections, including a nationally renowned Eviction Diversion program

What People Are Saying

Relentless, whip-smart, meticulously prepared and utterly fearless…

Philadelphia Magazine

Her leadership sets a standard for public office holders across the country.

EMILY’s List Rising Star 2017

One of Philadelphia’s vanguard leaders in the city’s social justice movement…

Talk Poverty
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Philadelphia deserves a champion for working families. Helen’s leading the charge for quality public schools, affordable housing, a local Green New Deal, and a Philadelphia built for all of us.
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