Bringing back that ‘old school’ support

After prom­ising throughout his cam­paign to be ac­cess­ible and in­volved in the River Ward com­munit­ies, City Coun­cil­man Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.) shows he means to keep his prom­ise.

After he won the right to re­place Frank Di­Cicco at the top of the First Dis­trict in City Coun­cil, Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.) prom­ised voters in the River Wards that he would do all he could to sup­port the areas in his dis­trict north of City Hall.

Loc­als had long been con­cerned, at least while Di­Cicco was in of­fice, that their coun­cil­man didn’t of­ten ap­pear in the com­munity.

But Squilla prom­ised to change that, and with the new ef­fort to sta­tion someone from his of­fice in a ward of­fice in Port Rich­mond, the coun­cil­man said he hopes his con­stitu­ents will see that he means to keep his prom­ise.

“We’ve al­ways heard that nobody ever comes north of Cen­ter City,” said Squilla at the Demo­crat­ic Party’s 25th Ward of­fice, at 2637 E. Clear­field St. “Well, we are try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence. We will be here, we will be in South Philly and Cen­ter City. We want to be all over the dis­trict.”

In an ef­fort to serve the river ward com­munity, Sean K. Mc­Monagle, a le­gis­lat­ive as­sist­ant to the coun­cil­man, will be staff­ing the desk in the ward of­fice every Fri­day.

Mc­Monagle, 42, is a Port Rich­mond nat­ive. In fact, he lives only a few blocks away, near Ara­mingo Av­en­ue at Ann Street.

“I’m plan­ning on walk­ing here,” said Mc­Monagle.

To Squilla, hav­ing Mc­Monagle work­ing in the ward of­fice serves as something of an “old-school 3-1-1,” in ref­er­ence to the city’s in­form­a­tion hot­line. By hav­ing a staffer in the com­munity, Squilla said he be­lieves loc­al res­id­ents will not only be able to have a dir­ect line of con­tact to his of­fice, but he will know more about what’s hap­pen­ing in the com­munity.

“This is all old school,” said the coun­cil­man. “Of course there’s al­ways email and in­ter­net, but there are people that don’t use that.”

Walk­ing through the ward of­fice is something of a trip through the his­tory of Phil­adelphia polit­ics. On every wall of the of­fice are pho­tos of Phil­adelphia politi­cians in­clud­ing former may­or Wilson Goode, City Coun­cil­wo­man Mari­an Tasco (D-9th dist.), former state sen­at­or Vince Fumo, Con­gress­man Bob Brady (D-1st dist.) and former Gov­ernor Ed Rendell.

Many of the pho­tos pic­ture 25th Ward lead­er Tom John­son. He’s been a ward lead­er since 1994 and has been work­ing for Con­gress­man Brady since 2008.  

“This place is like a his­tory mu­seum,” said John­son.

Ac­cord­ing to Squilla, the of­fice will be a place where res­id­ents can come to ex­press their con­cerns or re­quest a city ser­vice. He poin­ted out that this time of year, he fields a lot of re­quests for block parties.

“We need to do more to reach out. Some people rely on a bus or they just walk. They don’t want to walk to City Hall,” he said. “We want to be seen.”

Squilla said he hopes the of­fice will show the com­munity that he stands by his com­mit­ment to ser­vice to the River Wards.

“I really hope this helps people get in­volved,” said Squilla. “I think if we can’t get every­one down to City Hall, we have to bring City Hall to them.”

In or­der to best serve res­id­ents, Mc­Monagle will be work­ing closely with John­son and Peg Rzepski, ward lead­er for the 31st ward.

Hay­den Mit­man can be con­tac­ted at 215-354-3124 or by email at hmit­

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