PHILADELPHIA - A day after resigning from Philadelphia City Council, Helen Gym announced her campaign for mayor, swelling an already crowded field of candidates.
Gym, a former school teacher, spoke to a packed audience at the William Way Community Center on Wednesday evening and outlined her vision for a "safe and more prosperous and healthy Philadelphia."
"I'm standing here today for the same reason I became a teacher: to build a better Philadelphia," Gym said. "I am asking you to join together and make this city everything it can be. Nobody will fight harder for Philadelphia than Philadelphians themselves."
Gym is the seventh candidate for Philadelphia mayor, and the third woman vying for the job. The 54-year-old, two-term at-large member of Philadelphia's City Council enters the race as a proven vote getter and a darling of the progressive, left-leaning wing of the Democratic party.
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Gym highlighted accomplishments from her time on city council during her first campaign speech, which included advocating for educators and battling gun violence by using millions in emergency funds to "clean up and light up our streets."
"I worked to establish the first non-police response plan for mental health emergencies, piloting a mental health crisis response unit out of the Department of Behavioral Health," Gym said. "I need police to get to the calls they need to faster, and trained mental health professionals to respond to the calls where their expertise is required."
In a city wracked with violence, including a historically bloody 2021 where more than 500 people were killed, Gym says her first order of business if elected will be to declare a state of emergency on crime.
"We will save this City and our young people from the violence that threatens every part of our lives," Gym said. "With your help, it’s time to elect a real fighter to protect the city we call home. And that’s why I’m announcing my run for Mayor of Philadelphia."
She also spoke about her efforts to address evictions in Philadelphia, a city she claimed has the fourth most evictions in the country. A collaborative program that she helped create by pulling city agencies together "slashed evictions by two-thirds and modeled in over 30 states.
"That’s how you become a model for the nation," Gym said. "Time and time again, we have faced crises, and we have met them with powerful and relentless force of people fired up demanding change."
In a democratic stronghold of Philadelphia, it's widely believed that whoever wins the democratic primary in May will succeed Jim Kenney.