There was a celebration atmosphere on Saturday at Taller Puertorriqueño on the 2600 block of N. 5th Street as City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez officially announced her campaign for re-election in the 7th District.
The event, emceed by Power 99’s Mina SayWhat, drew the support of local politicians, labor leaders, business leaders, faith leaders, non-profit leaders and residents of the district.
SayWhat praised Sánchez for her work in strengthening neighborhood commercial corridors, which she called “the economic veins of our City.”
“They provide jobs and local access to needed goods and services,” she said. “When safe, clean and vibrant, they attract new residents into the surrounding residential areas that can lead to the revitalization of an entire neighborhood.” Maria, she said, has worked tirelessly to boost investments in programs that have been effective and has implemented policies that help create supportive environments for corridor-based businesses.
Monica Parrilla, co-owner of Marz Auto Center, and President of the Hunting Park Business Association agreed, saying that Sánchez has created policies that help small business, including tax exemptions. “I have very special sympathy for small business because I was raised in a shop,” said Parrilla. “There was no 9 to 5 routine”. She said that small business owners are always on-the-go, and often feel like they live where they work.
A number of City Council members voiced their support as well. Mark Squilla said that nobody’s better to have on your side in a fight than Maria. “My best weapon is (that) I can say, hey listen — you can either work with me, or I’m gonna unleash Maria on you!” Squilla said that it works.
Council President Darrell Clarke asked that Sánchez’s district re-elect her because the voice she brings to the table is real, with passion, and will move the neighborhood and city forward.
Sánchez thanked her supporters, saying that the work she does is ultimately about a single goal — to improve life for everyone. She added that people want better opportunities for themselves and their families. “I am their advocate to ensure that they have access to those opportunities.”
She specifically pointed to Juniata in her speech. “Ask the residents of Juniata,” she said. “Whether you’re in the Civic, the Action, the Friends groups – together there’s been an expansion of youth programming through PAL, renovations to Ferko and Piccoli, and a wonderful welcoming triangle that says Welcome to Juniata. The residents of Juniata – They’re all in! My mother lives there. She can tell you.”
While more corruption charges are being levied against political and labor figures in our city, Sánchez sets herself apart from the political machine. “My independence comes at a price,” she said. She said that she’s unwilling to play the game of corruption and destruction that the polarizing political establishment in the barrio has experienced.
In January, State Rep. Angel Cruz announced his intention to look into running against Sánchez in the May Primary Election. Not referring to him by name, Sánchez said “My declared challenger is not new, is not progressive, and it is not in the benefit of this community.”
“After 20 years of elective office, he hasn’t passed one bill. I’m not making that up,” she said. “Not one to improve the quality of life in this district.” She added that while the Philadelphia State Delegation has grown with new engaged progressive voices, her challenger “represents everything that is old and tired.”
After those brief remarks about Rep. Cruz, Sánchez said “but this is a celebration,” and moved on, declaring “The journey is ours. The victory is ours,” as Katy Perry’s song “Roar” began playing loudly.
The May Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, May 21st this year. A Sánchez – Cruz battle could get ugly. Sánchez said with some slang, “If you’re gonna hit me, Imma hitcha back”. The history of the two elected officials has been contentious, to say the least.
District Attorney Larry Krasner called Sánchez “a force of nature” during his remarks, adding that his office calls her “MQS”, and that he thinks there’s the need to add something to it, such as the Glorious MQS or Magnificent MQS.