Northeast Times

The short and colorful campaign of Richie Antipuna

Kens­ing­ton’s Rich­ie An­ti­puna is vo­cal when it comes to the com­munity. He wants to take his voice to City Hall, but is a long way off.

Rich­ie An­ti­puna says it’s time for a change in city polit­ics, and he be­lieves he’s the man to bring that change to City Hall.

But, it seems the polit­ic­al new­comer will need to wait to achieve his goal.

Last week, after hear­ing that he could be re­moved from a bal­lot if his can­did­acy for City Com­mis­sion­er was leg­ally chal­lenged, An­ti­puna with­drew from the race — fol­lowed by a char­ac­ter­ist­ic con­ces­sion speech from his back­yard pool.

An­ti­puna’s con­cern was that he was lis­ted as a re­gistered Demo­crat after the May primar­ies, but, he in­ten­ded to run as the Green Party can­did­ate — it would be too short of a time peri­od to claim a new party af­fil­i­ation, he said.

The 39-year-old mar­ried fath­er of three said in an in­ter­view last week that he vows to con­tin­ue fight­ing for the com­munity, even if he will need to wait un­til he can again run for of­fice.

“My act­iv­ism comes from my child­hood,” he said.

Ex­cept for a spell when he worked in South Philly as a crane op­er­at­or at the Navy Yard, An­ti­puna has lived in Kens­ing­ton his whole life.

He lives near Somer­set and Mem­ph­is streets. Sup­port­ing the com­munity al­ways has been his pas­sion.

In fact, it’s this pas­sion that led him to cre­ate The Rich­ie An­ti­puna Show, a loc­al news show he does with child­hood friend, Heath­er Bar­ton. Their “Kenzo News,” a much raw­er on­line spin off with plenty of self-de­prec­at­ing hu­mor, has also been been pop­u­lar.

An­ti­puna said film has been a pas­sion since he was 12, after he got his first cam­era and, with friends, filmed his own ver­sion of The Great Train Rob­bery on the nearby Con­rail tracks.

Last Novem­ber, when he star­ted The Rich­ie An­ti­puna Show — a weekly loc­al news pro­gram shown Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on Phil­lyCam, a com­munity ac­cess chan­nel on chan­nel 66 on Com­cast and chan­nel 29 on Ve­r­i­zon Fios — An­ti­puna said he wanted the show to be a way to provide Kens­ing­ton with a pro­gram fo­cused on the neigh­bor­hood.

But, just about the time he star­ted the pro­gram, news me­dia flooded the com­munity to in­vest­ig­ate the vi­ol­ent crimes of Ant­o­nio Rodrig­uez, dubbed the Kens­ing­ton Stran­gler.

“That hit a spot with me, call­ing it ‘The Kens­ing­ton Stran­gler,’” re­called An­ti­puna. “I didn’t like that at all. It was like ‘There they go, put­ting down Kens­ing­ton again’ … I’m sick of the bad press.”

An­ti­puna wanted to fight what he saw as a bad repu­ta­tion the news me­dia was put­ting on the neigh­bor­hood.

Now, with a de­sire to enter city polit­ics, An­ti­puna said, he wants to show that not only is Kens­ing­ton not the crime-rid­den ghetto it’s of­ten de­scribed as, but a vi­brant, healthy, blue-col­lar com­munity that de­serves a say in City Hall.

“I nev­er wanted to be a politi­cian, and I still don’t,” he said. “But, polit­ics are sup­posed to be for the people.”

In May, the Phil­adelphia Green Party se­lec­ted An­ti­puna as its can­did­ate for City Com­mis­sion­er.

An­ti­puna said the po­s­i­tion would have en­abled him to bring is­sues that are im­port­ant to “the reg­u­lar guy” to the at­ten­tion of elec­ted of­fi­cials.

And, he said, Kens­ing­ton is un­der­rep­res­en­ted in City Hall.

Ac­cord­ing to An­ti­puna, the area sees typ­ic­ally low voter turnout dur­ing elec­tions, but that’s something he be­lieves he can change as a neigh­bor­hood guy.

In fact, he claims he quickly gathered 4,000 sig­na­tures for his pe­ti­tion to run for of­fice and a Face­book page he cre­ated to help catch the Kens­ing­ton Stran­gler re­ceived more than 10,000 mem­bers.

An­ti­puna, who owns, but is in the pro­cess of selling, the Crazy Lep­re­chaun at 3589 Rich­mond St., said the people of Kens­ing­ton are will­ing to vote and speak their minds, they just need someone to get be­hind.

“I feel like I am the Ral­ph Nader of Phil­adelphia,” he said. “If people want to change what’s go­ing on in City Hall, you have to fight to get there … People don’t know the power they have in their fin­ger, just to push that [elec­tion] but­ton.”

 One of his elec­tion pledges would have been to give a chunk of his salary back to con­stitu­ents.

“I don’t even know what I’d make, but I’d donate 20 per­cent of that back to the com­munity, why not?” said An­ti­puna. “I’d do that job for free.”

Even though he now has taken his hat from the ring for City Com­mis­sion­er, An­ti­puna said it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore he runs for of­fice again.

“I ain’t stop­ping,” he said con­fid­ently. “I’ll make a ca­reer out of this.”

Next for An­ti­puna? He’s think­ing of run­ning for state rep­res­ent­at­ive in his home dis­trict.

And if that doesn’t work, he’ll try again, be­cause as long as he’s in an of­fice, An­ti­puna said, he will be able to change the city for the bet­ter.

“I’m just a reg­u­lar guy,” said An­ti­puna. “But, once I’m in there, I can get to the people in power and say what needs to be said.”••

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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