Brian Gordon, a Philadelphia native and current Lower Merion Township commissioner, is running for the state’s second Congressional district, which includes most of Main Campus and the entire Health Sciences Campus.
Gordon is currently running against Democrats Dan Muroff, Dwight Evans, Republican James Jones and Democrat Chaka Fattah—who has represented the district since his election in 1994.
Gordon said the reason he decided to run on this campaign was due to a lack of action on issues in the district.
“In terms of this district, the three top issues to me are poverty, poor public educational options—inconsistent public educational options there are some good some bad—and … violence,” Gordon said. “So the reason I decided to run was because I felt I had the skills and ability and the track record to make a serious stance on addressing those issues.”
Gordon, who was born at Jefferson University Hospital, attended an alternative high school on Chestnut Hill called the Miquon Upper School. He later attended Emory University, Cornell University and the London School of Economics, where he earned a degree in Industrial Labor Relations in 1982.
He also enrolled at the University of Wisconsin and received a law degree, which led to him working as a union-side labor lawyer in Seattle for the Machinist Union and Building Trades Union.
Gordon said he learned one of the key points of his campaign while taking a macroeconomics class at Temple during his junior year of high school from a chart called “gun versus butter” in his Samuelson economics textbook.
“Butter is from the Great Depression days where there was soup kitchens and only so much public tax dollars to go around,” Gordon said. “So it’s a choice between soup kitchens versus war. So the modern equivalent of what we’re taught in the ‘70s is, ‘Do you invest in education, roads, bridges, schools, libraries or do you invest more and more money in defense?’”
Gordon wants to make more money available by ending the era of mass incarceration and investing the funds in education.
“I would decriminalize marijuana statewide to get rid of an entire class of expensive courts, prosecutors, police and incarceration that really has very limited effect on public health,” Gordon said.
He added he would reduce prison sentences for drug use and addiction to treat it as a disease.
According to the Vera Institute of Justice, it costs taxpayers on average $31,286 to keep an inmate in prison per year. In addition, the state of Pennsylvania currently has 84,538 people incarcerated, according to The Sentencing Project.
Gordon is also an advocate for community policing to make neighborhoods safer.
After two black males were questioned and detained for shoveling snow from a neighbor’s driveway in Lower Merion in February of 2015, Gordon responded by reaching out to the NAACP, members of the community and police to have an “open dialogue on race and policing.”
“The meeting was crucial in terms of getting race relations quickly to the front burner in Lower Merion, where it’s been worked on ever since,” Gordon said. “The police have done things like week-long courses in race relations, racial sensitivity, excusing bias and other issues to make sure in their work they’re policing without bias.”
Along with federal racketeering charges against Fattah, Gordon believes his ineffectiveness to improve the living conditions of the people living in his district are what can help him take his seat.
Fattah could not be reached for comment.
Residents of Pennsylvania’s second congressional district can cast their votes in the primary on April 26. Gordon also plans to make a trip to Temple to promote his campaign before the primary.
Tom Ignudo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ignudo5.