Occupation: Currently holds a Supervisory position with the Urban Affairs Coalition
Bio: As a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Mt. Airy section and more than 15 years of dedicated service to the community and the underserved. Before joining UAC, he worked two plus years as a Registered Financial Representative. He also oversees, coaches and administrates St. Luke’s Spirit basketball and Track programs. Lofton also volunteers between 15-20 hours weekly to community, including more than eight years of managing youth programs and providing various services to homeless and welfare-to-work populations.
Web site: http://andrewloftonforcitycouncil2011.webs.com/
What makes you a good fit for the 8th District Council job?
I am a good fit and the best candidate for the 8th District Council job for the following reasons:
1. I’m not beholden to anyone other than the hardworking citizens of the community because I’m not a part of the existing structure, which has operated on the pay-to-play principle, which has left the community concerns and wishes unattended.
2. I bring to the job more than 15 years of communicating, interacting and working directly with youth, senior citizens, grand parents taking care of grandkids, welfare-to-work and homeless populations. This experience interacting with individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds gives me a level of understanding and perspective of the district that others don’t have.
3. Fresh perspective and “out of the box” solutions to resolve tax, blight, city revenue and economic development issues.
Chestnut Hill has seen numerous zoning disputes in which the neighborhood’s economic interests have run counter to near neighbor interests. How much input should a community have into zoning decisions vs. near neighbors? What is the council person’s role in zoning disputes?
The role of the councilperson is to help arrive at a solution that will minimize the impact on the near neighbors and insure that their concerns are heard while the community’s long term interest is being served best. I believe that a majority of these issues can be eliminated by having community involvement in the initial planning phase. The community council I would implement would consist of the leadership of the more than 30 organizations which are within the district. I believe that solutions to proposed problems will be born at meetings within this forum.
How can the city balance the needs to encourage small businesses and keep residents’ taxes low and services running?
First, I believe that the city currently has several underutilized and untapped sources of revenue that can be used to help, keep much needed services running efficiently and effectively. An example of this includes but is not limited to, rehabbing properties in city inventory and making these properties available for habitation by those in need of affordable housing at the cost of 1.5 times the property tax. This type of proposal increases tax revenue received by the city. In addition to plans like this, city government needs to overhaul the existing tax structures, making it more advantageous for businesses to operate within the city and lessen the tax burden for the overtaxed residents.
The city’s public schools seem to be in a near constant state of crisis. What steps do you think the city should take to improve city public schools?
The city needs to be a partner with the existing state run school system. This partnership could take the form of earmarking financial resources to public schools for specialized programs which will engage students in the learning process by using hands-on or life, skill approaches to learning. Example’s include cooking or building projects that can be used to reinforce math skills. Also, while the state doesn’t make kindergarten mandatory, allocate resources to help and encourage parents to support the educational process for their children earlier versus later. Also, fixing the blighted property and tax issues will increase the tax base, which will also add revenue for city schools.
Polls have shown that voters are fed up with politics and distrustful of government. What would you do as a councilperson or are you doing as a candidate to address the corrosion of the public’s faith in government?
The key to restoring faith in government is maintaining transparency and being accountable to the community. I first would create a community council consisting of leaders of the more than 30 community organizations. This initiative is the key to a transparent council office that communicates, and is accountable to the residents it’s beholden to serve. This council would be responsible for identifying the needs and concerns of the community, as well as formulating and assessing Request for Proposals (RFP’s) forwarded to developers interested doing business in the district. I would schedule monthly meetings with this council.
Finally, the DROP program has made a lot of headlines for what can best be described as abuse by city officials who retire for a day in order to collect large cash payments. What is your attitude about DROP? If you are elected will you support for City Council President anyone who has entered the DROP program?
I have always believed that elected officials’ participation in the DROP program was wrong. The fact that they were allowed to vote on the topic while being enrolled is at the least a conflict of interest because they have the ability to make decisions on a program that they benefit from personally. I would support a modified program for police and firemen. The modified program would need to reassess the rates of interest and attempt to insure that the program is revenue neutral