City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez last week addressed the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, becoming the third likely candidate for mayor to speak to the group in the last few months.
Sanchez (D-7th dist.) gave her talk at the Dining Car. She was introduced by Dan McElhatton, government affairs chairman at the Chamber and a former 7th district councilman.
Earlier this year, City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and Councilman Derek Green spoke to the Chamber.
Elected in 2007, Sanchez is chairwoman of Council’s Appropriations and Education committees. Her district includes Frankford and Northwood and parts of Wissinoming, Castor Gardens and Lower Mayfair.
In remarks to Chamber members, she focused on ways to make Philadelphia open for business, specifically pointing to her efforts to lower business taxes.
“We need jobs,” she said. “I have a strong commitment to small businesses.”
Sanchez was the only Democrat to vote against the beverage tax.
In general, she said, it’s more expensive to do business in Philadelphia than Washington, D.C. or New York. She cited a statistic showing a D.C. electrician makes $55 an hour while one in Philadelphia makes $105.
On other issues, she said she supports clinics to expunge the records of some ex-cons so they can have a better chance to find a job and a way out of poverty.
To address the falling homeownership rate in the city, she favors property tax payment plans, without interest and penalties, so people can stay in their houses.
Sanchez said there are some 60,000 people on a water bill payment plan. Once these people are on the road to compliance, their past debt is wiped out. The collection rate has gone from 89 percent to 94 percent.
“I believe government has a role to play,” Sanchez said.
As for the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, Sanchez pushed the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the City Planning Commission to continue to work so registered community organizations could have their say on neighborhood issues.
“Bureaucracy can be fixed,” she said.
Sanchez wants the discussion about Philadelphia’s future to be about 2030, not 2023, with top issues including infrastructure, quality of life and the tree canopy.
In the question-and-answer session, McElhatton brought up stop and frisk. Sanchez said when the practice was implemented in Philadelphia a decade or so ago, it targeted black men and rarely resulted in a confiscated gun. She wants more police officers on the streets, not performing civilian jobs. She wants a public dashboard to bring accountability to the police department, district attorney’s office, the prison system and the public defender’s office. ••