Students and local residents joined Democratic mayoral candidate Tom Knox for dinner at Qdoba’s Mexican Grill during his tour of the new Avenue North Plaza Friday evening.
Knox came to speak with Temple students
and view the new development that he said has helped the North Philadelphia area and the Temple community.
“It’s impacted it positively,” said Knox. “We need to bring life back to these areas. We need to get people to start moving in and get developers to come and clean the place up. Knox, seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination in the May 15 primary election, said his goal is to “let businesses develop it, rather than the city.”
During his visit, Knox also greeted students at The Draught Horse bar located at1431 Cecil B. Moore Ave., across from Qdoba’s Mexican Grill, before purchasing movie tickets to see “The Pursuit of Happyness” at the Pearl Theatre. In response to the shooting near the theater
last semester, Knox said he encouraged the continued support of the Avenue North businesses.
“It’s a random thing that can happen any place. People should not let it influence their decision to come to the Pearl Theatre or this area. We have to show our support, and that’s what we’re doing tonight,” Knox said.
Several students shared Knox’s view that the shooting was a random event.
“It was an isolated incident that could have happened anywhere,” said Seth Embry,
president of the Main Campus Program Board.
“Because it was a new theater and development, it got a lot more attention. It’s a small part of a larger issue of crime throughout the city.” Brendan Bailes, chairman of the Student Life Committee for Temple Student Government, credited the intense media coverage of the event to the fact that it occurred in North Philadelphia.
“If it was six blocks north, it would not have gotten the same media attention,” said Bailes.
In regards to safety, Knox said he believes
that the Avenue North development will get more people out at night, which will lead to a safer community.
“People are out at night at restaurants, shopping and walking up and down the streets. This always improves the neighborhood and Temple is doing that,” Knox said.
Knox compared the new development and intended growth on Temple’s campus to the successful overhaul of Center City in recent years.
“There has been great success improving
the areas in Center City around Walnut and Chestnut streets,” said Knox. “We want to duplicate that success in this area.”
Students agreed that growth and economic
development in North Philadelphia are necessary.
“I’m from the North Philadelphia area,” Embry said. “Without Temple, there is not a lot here. There’s not a lot of restaurants and shopping centers that will bring economic development.”
But some students are hesitant to completely ignore the neighborhood that surrounds them.
“I would like the next mayor to make sure that the area is not as gentrified as others might like to see. I am interested in preserving the area,” said junior communications major Ashley Mabrey.
In addition to the development around Temple, students are also interested in the impact the next mayor will have on the city. “The next mayor should first focus on crime” said TSG Vice President of Student Affairs Juan Galeano, adding that competitive business regulations and better education opportunities for Philadelphia students are also important. Galeano also said candidates should maintain contact with students, adding that many students lose touch with the political system and politicians like Knox can bring them back.
“[The] most important thing is to talk to the students. Many students don’t vote, so politicians do not talk to them, so even fewer students vote. If we get more politicians talking to students, they might [become] more interested,” Galeano said.
“On the other hand, students have a responsibility to take more political action.” Knox also expressed his interest in gaining a rapport with the students through meeting and talking with them, adding that Temple’s student population is unique since most students are from Philadelphia and its surrounding areas.
“It’s important to keep their community growing,” Knox said. “It’s good to just be on campus introducing ourselves and handing out pamphlets, just like we’re doing here.”
Alex Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .