With Election Day just around the corner, Pennsylvania Lt. Governor and United States Senate Candidate John Fetterman (D) visited Temple University yesterday to speak to the North Philadelphia community about key policy differences between him and his opponent, Mehmet Oz (R).
The one-hour-long event, attended by students, parents and local residents, was held in the Howard Gittis Student Center and featured speeches from North Philadelphia community members and state and local politicians about how Fetterman’s platform can address Philadelphians’ needs.
Sean Jenkins, president of Temple Democrats, opened the event by emphasizing the importance of the Nov. 8 election and how students’ votes will affect key issues, including abortion and workers’ rights.
North Philadelphia community organizer, Kathy Barnes, said Fetterman, if elected, will focus on addressing Pennsylvanians’ needs, like defending affordable healthcare and supporting working-class people, and urged the audience to vote in the election.
“This election is a moment in time where our choices matter, our votes matter and the decisions that we’ve made,” Barnes said. “We’ll feel the effects of those for decades from now. Pennsylvania is a unique place. John Fetterman is a Pennsylvanian from Pennsylvania who understands Pennsylvania solutions.”
Pastor Darron McKinney of Bright Hope Baptist Church, located on Cecil B. Moore Avenue and 12th Street, stressed the need for a representative in Washington, D.C. to speak up for marginalized and disenfranchised citizens.
“We need a supporter for economic security that provides a wage with dignity of North Philadelphia. That is John Fetterman,” McKinney said. “He’s someone who is passionate about crime, opioid crisis and job insecurities in Pennsylvania. That’s John Fetterman.”
Darrell Clarke, Philadelphia City Council president, was next to take the stage. Clarke spoke about the need to address gun violence in Philadelphia and how he believes Fetterman is the right candidate to address this issue.
As of Oct. 27, there have been 410 gun violence deaths in Philadelphia, according to the Office of the Controller’s gun violence dashboard.
Pennsylvania Second Lady Gisele Barreto Fetterman talked about John Fetterman’s values and what is at stake during the upcoming election, like healthcare access and the union rights.
“For many Americans, health care is on the line,” Gisele Barreto Fetterman said. “Our rights are on the line, safety is on the line. The Union way of life is on the line, kindness and decency.”
John Fetterman plans to combat high healthcare costs by lowering the Medicare age requirement from 65 to 60 years old and advocating for reducing costs of prescription drugs, according to his campaign website.
He also supports unions and wants to expand the “Union Way of Life“, which promotes workers having a comfortable and stable life. He is in favor of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021, which expands laborers’ rights to organize and participate in a union, according to his campaign website.
Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta then introduced John Fetterman and his policies and spoke about contrasts between John Fetterman and Oz.
Kenyatta said that Oz is out of touch with Pennsylvanians on key issues like abortion rights, gun safety and unionization.
Oz supports pro-life policies and is pro-Second Amendment, according to his campaign website.
“A land of plenty where all compete, all contribute and we all rise together,” Kenyatta said. “That’s what John represents. Ours, my friends is a big America, where who you love, who you’re from, where you’re from, or how you worship, offers sanctions, not distractions.”
Once John Fetterman took the stage, he reminded the crowd that he is an everyday Pennsylvanian. The Fetterman campaign often points to Oz’s home in New Jersey to argue that he is not a Pennsylvanian.
John Fetterman focused most of his speech discussing gun violence in Pennsylvania and health care and abortion access.
He explained how thankful he was for receiving health care after a stroke in May and how important accessible health care is to people’s lives.
“It wasn’t easy five months after a stroke, but I was always committed to showing up and I got knocked down but I got back and that’s really the core value of our campaign is we are running for anyone that ever got knocked down that had to hang back up too,” John Fetterman said.
John Fetterman hopes to address gun violence in the city by supporting the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which proposes increased background checks and investments in mental health care.
While running for mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania in 2005, John Fetterman’s platform included gun control policies after two of the students, from the GED program he taught, were shot.
He was mayor for 13 years and worked with the Braddock Police Department to help address crime and the county only reported 10 homicides during that time.
“You know, I ran for mayor of my community in western Pennsylvania to confront gun violence,” John Fetterman said. “It’s always been a very deep personal issue for me. After two of my students were gunned down, I ran for mayor, won by one vote, one vote.”
He closed his speech by emphasizing the importance of voting and reminding voters to cast their ballot, however they can, on or before Election Day.
“Ten days, 10 days now before the election,” John Fetterman said. “We’re gonna be finishing strong and spending time in Philadelphia and all across Pennsylvania.”