Tulips showing bright colors, buds blooming on trees and warmer breezes blowing during the past few weeks signal the arrival of Spring. This long awaited arrival means three things for Philly residents: the weather will be getting warmer, children will be out of school soon and political candidates (incumbents and new comers ) are vying for posts in city government in the approaching May 17th primary election. As in all elections, business, cultural and special interest groups will endorse the candidate they deem as the best person to advance the issues those groups feel are important to them.
Danilo Burgos, the chairman of the Philadelphia Dominican Grocers Association said he has no doubt about the candidate that he sees his membership and others coming together to support. That candidate is District Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez (D-7th), the only Hispanic on Philadelphia’s 17-member City Council. Quinones-Sanchez is finishing her first four-year term. Burgos said that his organization believes that she has been one of the strongest supporters of the small business owners throughout the city, citing the need for the change to “a more business friendly City Council” from one that he said has forgotten the importance of “Mom-&-Pop shops” across the city.
Since the 2000 Census, the Hispanic and Latino population of Philadelphia has grown by over 58,000 people or nearly 30 percent. Varsovia Fernandez of the Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said the trend has been mirrored statewide. Both Fernandez and Burgos said that the increase in population should result in an increase of representation in city government. However, Hispanics are visibly absent from candidates running for Philadelphia municipal offices in the May primary with the exception of Quinones-Sanchez. While the May primary will not launch more Hispanics into city electoral posts, Fernandez and Burgos both said that Councilwoman Sanchez should help in expanding a healthy relationship between city government and the Hispanic and Latino business and residential community.