New beginnings

Local officials and politicians share their New Year’s resolutions with the Northeast Times.

The year 2017 is officially behind us and it’s about that time in which people make attempts to better themselves for the upcoming year. The start of a new year means the start of people’s “New Year Resolutions.” The Northeast Times caught up with various elected officials and leaders to see what their personal and professional goals are for 2018.

What is your New Year’s Resolution?

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle expressed his thoughts toward the Philadelphia sports world and work life. “Try to become a more optimistic Philadelphia sports fan (and keep a close eye on Carson Wentz’s progress). But, on a more serious note, I will look for ways to work constructively across the aisle in a bipartisan manner to expand opportunity for all and access to good jobs.”

John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, “My New Year’s resolution is the same as years past. Work hard to protect the officers on the street so we hopefully do not lose another.”

Joe Sannutti, president of Tacony Civic Association, “Just keep on doing what I’m doing, keep on striving to keep the neighborhood together and harmonious, like we try to every year.”

State Rep. John Taylor, who is not seeking re-election for the first time since 1986, plans on getting in shape. “Work on my overall health. Less sugar, more exercise.”

Looking ahead: Above, state Rep. John Taylor, who is not seeking re-election for the first time since 1986, plans on getting in shape.

Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, 7th district, wants to spend more time with her elders. “As one gets older, one loses more family and friends. I want to invest more time in ‘listening’ to the seniors in my life. As much as I appreciate the energy of young folks, ‘wiser’ folks have great stories to share.

Joe DeFelice, former chairman of the Philadelphia Republican Party, in 2017 took a role with the Trump administration as Mid-Atlantic regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Despite this new role, he intends on keeping his family’s needs first. “My oldest boy Joey has autism. My New Year’s resolution is to spend as much time as possible getting him the help that he needs.”

Former City Controller Alan Butkovitz spent three terms in that office, but officially ended his term in 2018. He intends on spending more time with his family as well. “I’m going to have a chance to spend more time with my family, including my four young grandchildren.”

Donny Smith, president of the Mayfair Civic Association, has his sights set on bringing a statue to an iconic meeting place for the Philadelphia sports fan. “For 2018, other than continuing to make things better in Mayfair, I have one specific thing that I’d really like to accomplish this year. Since Cottman and Frankford has always been the gathering place for Northeast Philadelphia to celebrate a big win, for the last few years a handful of us have been discussing the creation of a statue for Mayfair, a ‘Celebration Statue,’ depicting a man with his son on his shoulders, hands in the air holding a pennant, celebrating the latest team victory. I’d really like to move this to the frontburner and try to get this going and make it happen this year. Working with Scoats and Marc of the Business Improvement District who share the same vision, I feel really good about making this happen very soon.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party, wants to ensure some of the goals of the previous year that were not accomplished are not forgotten. “For me, new year resolutions have to be connected to last year’s accomplishments and those things not yet accomplished. The not-yet-accomplished issues then become the New Year’s to-do list.”

Matt Darragh, president of Parkwood Civic Association, is not particularly a fan of “New Year’s Resolutions.” “As a practice, I don’t make resolutions. Generally, I just try to learn from my mistakes and get a little better every day. Incremental change is usually easier to manage than one sweeping change.”

Councilman Bobby Henon, 6th district, echoed the sentiments of Darragh in sharing his thoughts toward bringing in the new year with a resolution. “I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. That being said, I’m looking forward to having as many open, honest conversations with as many members of our community as possible.”

Mayor Jim Kenney, entering his third year as Philadelphia mayor, has his focus toward the schools in the city. “Professionally, the biggest focus this year will be ensuring that our schools have the resources they need. Local control by itself isn’t enough to turn the ship. We also need to put our money where our mouth is.”

If you could do one thing to improve the Northeast in 2018, what would it be?

Rep. Brendan Boyle believes an infrastructure bill would greatly benefit his district and the nation as a whole.“In 2018, I will continue my fight for an infrastructure package in Congress, which could help in many areas of Northeast Philadelphia. One project that I would fight for would be a redesign of Roosevelt Boulevard that would improve traffic and make it safer.”

John McNesby, president of FOP Lodge 5, believes the Northeast would benefit from greater police presence. “I think we definitely need more police. Seems we are a big tax base with the least service. More officers on beats to enforce more quality-of-life crimes.”

Above, John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, made a resolution to work hard to protect the officers on the street.

Joe Sannutti, president of Tacony Civic Association, believes the police department and residents of the 15th district would benefit from a change in boundaries. “I would like to see our 15th district police department divided into two districts. We’ve been trying since the 1980s to have the 15th district split into two, mainly for the safety of the police and for the service of the residents. It’s a lot for the police to handle.”

Rep. John Taylor enters his last full year in office with a sense of urgency. “Get as much done as possible in my last year in office. I would like to get a number of bills enacted into law in Harrisburg and do as much in the neighborhoods as possible.”

Joe DeFelice, HUD’s Mid-Atlantic regional administrator, has spent time traveling the East Coast in his new role and believes land along the Delaware River can greatly benefit the residents of the Northeast. “Better river access and recreation. I’ve traveled around the East Coast this year and have seen what can be done with a viable riverfront. We have made some decent gains like Lardner’s Point and the Linden boat launch but there is still so much more that can be done.”

Former Controller Alan Butkovitz wants to see progress in the schools in the Northeast. “I’d like to see an improvement in the schools. That the schools be safer.”

In addition to the hopes of a “Celebration Statue” in Mayfair, civic association president Donny Smith wants to continue on the progress made in the neighborhood from the previous year.

“The Mayfair Civic Association has continued to grow and has done a great job of representing the community’s interest with respect to zoning in Mayfair, and handling our neighbor’s needs no matter how big or small.”

Rep. Bob Brady, who currently has two challengers in the Democratic primary, Nina Ahmad and Willie Singletary, wants to make sure the constituents of his district are properly addressed. “For Northeast Philadelphia, ensure that the concerns and issues of Northeast Philadelphia residents are heard and acted on. For Pennsylvania, re-elect our governor and work like hell to elect a Democrat president.”

Councilman Bobby Henon has civic association involvement at the forefront of his 2018 agenda. “I want to increase membership in civic organizations and protect those organizations from unfair lawsuits designed to discourage their public engagement and participation. And I want to drink more water.”

Mayor Jim Kenney is excited over a new bus service on Roosevelt Boulevard and believes George Washington High School has set a good standard of schools in the city and hopes other schools in the neighborhood see the same results. “I’m very excited about the new Direct Bus service on Roosevelt Boulevard that we developed with SEPTA last year. It shortens the Route 14’s bus service by about 20 minutes and provides service every 10 minutes during rush hour. Looking ahead to next year, I think properly funding our schools is the biggest things we can do to help every neighborhood. In September, we made George Washington High School a community school using money from the beverage tax, and with the additional resources it’s just flourished. Every neighborhood in the Northeast should have a public school that’s flourishing like that.” ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com