Economic and Workforce Development
Over the past decades, even as the country as a whole has become more prosperous, communities throughout the nation are hurting. Here in Delaware County, we have seen amazing growth, but we are also facing serious challenges. Our current county government makes inequality worse, not better. Countywide, more than 10% of children live below the poverty line, and economic inequality is on the rise. We need to address poverty, economic inequality, and inequality of opportunity within Delaware County. Our government should work to serve the most pressing interests of our communities.
We need to strengthen job training programs and improve economic resources within Delaware County. This includes investing in infrastructure to create jobs within the community, expanding workforce development programs, and strengthening the pipeline between education and opportunity. As a County Council member, it will be my priority to implement programs that create more and better job opportunities for Delaware County residents and leverage their skills into a more prosperous community for all of us.
Education is vital to success, but only if students are given access to resources that allow them to leverage their education. For many communities in Delaware County, these opportunities never materialize. On the Upper Darby School Board, I worked to develop programs to help students prepare for the building trades exams. Our county should expand on these programs, through exam preparation, job fairs, and partnerships with local community groups and technology companies. We should also take advantage of Governor Wolf’s PASmart grants program, which provides additional funding for STEAM and job training programs. Lastly, we should provide resources to working families, including affordable childcare, paid family leave, and equal pay for equal work.
Delaware County is the only county in the region without a health department, and we desperately need one. We need to ensure that all Delaware County residents have access to convenient, quality healthcare, which includes services for physical health, substance use disorders, and mental health. On County Council, I will push to create a county health department and provide comprehensive health services for all our community members.
Countywide, our communities face worse health outcomes than both the Pennsylvania and national averages. Across the state and in Delaware County, communities of color have significantly worse access to healthcare services. In 2017, Pennsylvania was ranked 48th out of 50 for well-being of African-American and Latino children, but 20th for white children. These inequalities are unacceptable, and our county government should work to reverse them. In 2010, a Johns Hopkins study commissioned by Delaware County made numerous policy recommendations as to how County Council can improve community health outcomes, few of which were implemented.
On County Council, I will work to establish a county health department and implement other recommended policies. This County Health Department should provide services including, but not limited to, child and adult immunizations, a flu vaccine clinic, a maternal health subdivision, sexually transmitted diseases testing and treatment, family planning, food inspection, tuberculosis testing, WIC programming, mental health services, and community education on topics such as public safety, cardiovascular health, food safety, sexual violence prevention, tobacco use prevention, teen pregnancy prevention, exercise, and nutrition. Lastly, the county should institute programming specifically for substance use disorders. These services should include providing naloxone, sterile syringe exchange programs, counseling, and funding for short-term medical stays.
Delaware County is home to the only private, for-profit prison in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. The prison is operated by the highly controversial GEO Group, a private detention company that has time and time again been shown to horrifically mistreat incarcerated individuals. County Council oversees and appoints a prison board, which has direct control over contracting of the prison itself. On County Council, I will make de-privatization of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility a top priority.
We need to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the Delaware County community are receiving the treatment they need. Right now, we are locking up the poor and the mentally ill, and corporations are profiting off of human misery. We need to partner with organizations like Delco Coalition for Prison Reform to work to improve the conditions at the George Hill Correctional Facility. We have Pennsylvania’s only private prison and conditions, as reported over and over, are damaging to the inmates and to the broader community. As a County Council member, I will work for accountability from the prison board and improved living and working conditions for both inmates and employees. We need broad prison reform, in addition to deprivatization - that includes reforming the system of cash bail, making the prison board more accountable by opting into the Title 61 provision, and providing essential reentry programs and job training to inmates to lower the current recidivism rate.