“I want to introduce a new standard of living,” said William “Bill” Durham, a candidate for the City Council from the 8th District.
Donna Reed Miller has held this position for over 10 years. But Durham said that he has faith in the future.
“We can change this district in two to three years,” Durham, 55, added.
Durham has been a life-long resident of Germantown. After finishing a tour of duty as a medical corpsman during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and almost two decades of service as a Marine, he dedicated himself to serving the community in one way or another. His past jobs have all been dedicated to helping others whether it was as manager of New Courtland Elder Services or one of the six different political positions that he has held locally.
Throughout the years Durham said he has chosen to remain and represent the community because of his attachment to it. It used to be a safe community, he explained, when he attended high school. Throughout the 1960s, his family and he took part in the civil rights movement.
“I used to have negative thoughts about people,” Durham said.
But it wasn’t until he served in the Marines that he finally opened his eyes past his block, he explained. Living with people from all around the country helped him understand what he wanted to do with his life. All of his past jobs have revolved around helping with others or being involved in community advocacy and politics.
“Politics is always involved in community matters,” Durham said. He explained that he plans on using politics as a tool to help more people rather than being limited to specific programs and groups that he has worked with in the past.
He explained that his business card has a drawing of a little broom on it. Why? He wants to clean Philly up a bit.
“I’ve always thought that certain politicians get to a point that they do really lose contact with or don’t possess the energy or zest…. or they get tired of the fight… I’m a very harder worker, so I’ll be asking a lot of the staff that works for me. I need people to see that because of this choice their lives are getting better,” Durham said.
Durham said he has been asking his neighbors several questions, including, “What is the one little thing that irritates you to no end that you believe that a councilperson can take care of?”
Usually the answer has been city services such as trash and parking. Another question he asks is, “What long-term [goals] do you think that I can do in my position with your support that we can get done?”
He explained that the latter question is more of the needed cooperation between the city and its residents.
“I can do it but only with your support! A community has to support programs of intervention…education… all these things and give their 100 percent in order for me to come along and use the system to put these things in place,” he said.
Durham’s two key issues he would like to address are jobs and education. He explained that it’s been shown that people with less education are usually the ones who are more involved in crime. He added that even though the national unemployment may be at 8 percent, some blocks in Germantown may be at 40 percent unemployment.
Durham said that his focus would be on reeducating individuals and helping these pockets of unemployment turn around.
“I would like to see a vocational program right here in the district where it’s needed. Teaching people carpentry, teaching people manual things from which they can make money and sustain their family with,” he explained.
A primary problem in Germantown, he explained, is that there is little help or support for ex-convicts. There needs to be a supportive community who would receive business from those individuals, but there also needs to be a more equal income distribution, he added.
Durham explained that there’s a significant problem with those ranging from 18 to 25 since they’re already marred with a conviction.
“They want to be productive and do other things. But those opportunities do not exist when you have those kind of records in your past,” Durham said.
Abandoned houses are also a major issue in his campaign. He wants to target and renovate them instead of riding them of the drug dealers or other potential crime that they may attract.
He explained that these properties could be lucrative investments for developers and help provide jobs for those in the community with any experience in general construction. Such projects would also help boost the self-esteem of those living close to them.
“I believe that there’s a job opportunity by even keeping lots clean,” Durham added.
Durham said that he hopes that his knowledge of community politics and his role as resident of the area will help increase votership to help him get elected.
“The Marines believe in a mission. We don’t accept failure,” he said.