State rep reports troubling statistics in Frankford

A local legislator shared some Frankford statistics with members of the Northeast EPIC Stakeholders last week, and they weren’t what you’d call uplifting.

High poverty and unemployment rates contrasted against low voter turnouts are among the issues freshman state Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-179th dist.) wants to address in Harrisburg.

Philadelphia’s poverty rate is more than 26 percent, Dawkins said, and the state, at 13.3 percent is a little lower than the national rate of 15.4 percent. Frankford’s poverty rate is far worse, ranging from 33 to 45 percent. That’s across all ethnic lines, he said.

He said some Frankford families earn only $13,000 to $17,000 yearly.

“We’re all in the same boat,” Dawkins said at the Second Baptist Church of Frankford on Jan. 29. “We’re equally broke.”

Unemployment is between 18 and 28 percent in Frankford, the lawmaker said. The city rate is 7.1 percent. The state’s is 5.4 percent; the nation’s is 5.8 percent.

Businesses that operate in Frankford are not hiring locally, he said.

Dawkins also discussed voter turnout in the 2014 primary. There are 65,000 residents in the 179th Legislative District, which runs from Lower Mayfair down through Frankford and Oxford Circle to Olney. The district has about 35,000 registered voters, but only about 4,500 came out for the spring 2014 primary. That’s about 6 percent.

Citywide, he said, there is a projection that only 18 percent of the registered voters will come out for this year’s mayoral and council election.

It’s not just that people are absent from the polls. Parents are not involved in their children’s schooling. “Parents don’t show up for anything,” he said.

Dawkins said he will introduce legislation for a college scholarship program. He also wants the state’s drug-free school zone law to include libraries because so many of the city’s libraries are often crowded with kids after school hours. He also will push older legislation that will prohibit school smoking at school bus stops.

Further, Dawkins wants the Liquor Control Board to notify state and local officials of new or altered liquor license applications within their districts.

Dawkins said he plans on introducing legislation that would toughen penalties for liquor sales to minors. He wants fines of $5,000 to $15,000 for establishments that sell alcohol to minors who are then convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Dawkins’ district office is at 4915 Frankford Ave. The phone number is 215–744–7901. ••