Despite snow, more than 100 people attended the local swearing-in ceremony and celebration for state Sen. Sharif Street on Saturday in Mitten Hall.
The newly-elected senator represents District 3 of Pennsylvania, which includes Main Campus. He succeeded state Sen. Shirley Kitchen, who has served the district since 1996.
The official swearing-in ceremony took place in Harrisburg on Jan. 3 in Senate Chambers. Street, along with six state representatives were sworn-in by Justice Kevin Dougherty, a 1985 political science alumnus.
Sen. Street, who is the son of former Philadelphia Mayor John Street and nephew of former state Sen. Milton Street, first launched his bid in January 2016 after Kitchen announced her retirement.
“We have work to do,” Sen. Sharif Street said during the ceremony.
Street, a Philadelphia attorney and political adviser, ran on a platform based on increasing public school funding, creating jobs and assisting individuals after incarceration to avoid recidivism.
Prior to his election, Sen. Sharif Street was involved in the city’s housing and community development projects. He worked for state Senate and served as the chief legislative adviser to the Democratic chair of the Housing and Urban Development Committee.
The state senator has also served as a board member of the Columbia North YMCA at Broad and Master Streets.
During the Mitten Hall ceremony, Shawn Fordham, an aide to former Mayor John Street, said Sen. Street’s election was “history in the making.”
Sen. Street first thanked Kitchen for her years of service in the community as an activist and senator as well as other close friends and mentors that have helped him along the way, but quickly moved to speak about his platform.
“There are people in this district, this commonwealth, this country, that don’t have basic health care,” he said. “I believe every person has the right to health care.”
He added that health care is critically important and that there were people in the Philadelphia community who didn’t have healthcare prior to the creation of the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Street also spoke about his mother, who was a school teacher and woke up early each morning to drop him and his siblings off for school.
“And then she went on to make sure that the young people she taught had a decent education,” Sen. Street said. “I think it is deplorable that we educate people based on the property value of the county which they reside and not based on giving each child an equal opportunity.”
Throughout his campaign, Sen. Street said he wants to restore charter school reimbursement funding and fair funding to Philadelphia public schools.
Since his position will be to serve for not only his district, but also the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he discussed how many children in rural areas are also receiving underfunded education.
The state senator also discussed gun violence and how he plans to combat the issue.
“There are a lot of things we have to do as a community,” Sen. Street said. “There is no king, I am not a magician, but what I will do is fight for you in the general assembly and in the State Senate.”
Attendees Lenise Miller and Brenda Wade said they voted for Sen. Street because they believe it’s time to have a younger senator with new ideas.
“I just hope he will be a senator for all of the people,” said Brenda Wade who is from the Logan section of North Philadelphia. “If he’s a senator for Pennsylvania, then he needs to represent everyone.”
Sen. Street encouraged attendees to stay involved, through public hearings and coming out to Harrisburg if needed.
“I’m going to need you to come out when it’s not just a snowy day or a celebration,” he said. “I didn’t come here today merely just to celebrate the fact that we have got this far, but this is a marker in our journey.”