Strawberry Mansion: The Race Is On for State Representative in the 197th District

For Jose P. Miranda, a North Philadelphia native and a senior majoring in political science at West Chester University, tomorrow marks the end of a long, hard-fought campaign.

Miranda is running for Pennsylvania state representative in the 197th district, which includes parts of Strawberry Mansion.  Jewell Williams, who became sheriff of Philadelphia last year, formerly held that legislative seat. The 26 year-old Miranda, with the endorsement of State Sen. Shirley Kitchen, said he believes he’s the best person for the job.

“My governmental experience speaks for itself. I’ve been able to learn from some of the most successful politicians in the city,” Miranda said.

Unlike many candidates, Miranda has been involved with politics before he was a teenager. Miranda entered the realm of politics by  putting political fliers in residential mailboxes. He secured his first paying job in his late teens. From there, his governmental experience would steadily advance, including work with politicians such as North Philadelphia City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke, Mayor Michael Nutter and Kitchen.

J.P. Miranda's campaign has been endorsed by State Sen. Shirley Kitchen.

Kitchen, Miranda said with pride, has served as a great mentor.

“She gave me tough love and kept me on the right path when I needed it,” Miranda said.

He recently joined her with a senior citizen voting information session, located at 1439 N. Broad St. in the North City Congress building. Miranda educated seniors on Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID bill, focusing on how it will affect seniors.

“We want to come out here and make sure people are informed, especially the older adults because they’re the ones who are being identified by this bill [devised] to stop them from voting,” Miranda said, criticizing the measure critics contend is a Republican effort to limit voting by registered Democrats.

Miranda is so passionate about ensuring the ability to vote for seniors in the district that he plans to provide transportation to and from PennDot locations to make certain they are able to obtain the necessary state-issued identification to vote.

Bernice Whitfield, an attendee of that North City event, said, “He was to the point on what he wanted to do and I think he will get it done. I’m mighty sure he will because he looks like that type.”

Miranda, who lives on the 2200 block of North Carlisle Street in the home he grew up in with his single mother and five siblings, said his main focus throughout his campaign has been on the reduced state funding for social services and loopholes in the law for receiving a gun permit.

“This year they proposed a 25 percent budget decrease for social services but they proposed more money for prisons; so now where do our young folks go after-school? A lot of times they go to the streets instead of an after-school program where they’re learning something,” Miranda said.

The issue regarding the gun permit loophole is something that he is especially passionate about.

“A lot of criminals are informed—they’re very educated on their business. Once their permit is revoked, they go on the Internet and [they] go to the state of Florida print out their application. As long as that application has a money order attached to it, the State of Florida is going to give them that permit,” Miranda said.

This is the major problem, he said.

“All that they care about is that money. They don’t care about what’s happening on our streets here in Philadelphia. So we have to cut out loopholes like that,” Miranda said.

Furthermore, Miranda said he believes that these issues aren’t complex.

“They’re common sense things that need to be cut out,” Miranda said.

Kenneth Walker Jr. is also running for state representative of the 197th district. He and Miranda recently appeared at a debate in North Philadelphia.

Miranda’s challengers for the Democratic Party nomination in the 197th District, Jewel Williams, Jamil Ali and Kenneth Walker Jr., said they all believe that they, too, are the best person for the job. Williams is the daughter of the former state representative. Ali is a community activist and Walker is a Cheyney State University alumnus.

Miranda said he isn’t too worried about the competition though. Whether he wins or he loses, Miranda said it won’t change what his work ethic has already proven: that he’s in it for the long haul.

“I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing for the last five years. For me, this is a passion and you have to passionate about this—you have to have fire in your belly.  I want to continue to serve folks…regardless of what happens,” Miranda said.

Miranda recently spoke with seniors about the new Voter ID Bill and how they may be affected.

Dwyane Lolley, Miranda’s campaign manager, said his candidate’s work ethic is a testament to what he’s capable of doing if elected into office.

“You have so many politicians that are in office and don’t have the community in mind. Mr. Miranda has the community in mind, [so] it’s worth volunteering your time to work with [him] and to make sure [he] gets in office,” Lolley said.

Despite the outcomes of tomorrow’s elections, both Miranda and Lolley stressed the importance of voting no matter whom you choose to vote for.

“Voting and understanding who you are voting is very important,”  Lolley said.

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