State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas is running unopposed in Tuesday’s election.
Since 1989, Thomas has represented in the 181st District, which includes parts of North Philadelphia on the east side of Broad Street, stretching from Spring Garden Street to past Roosevelt Boulevard. A majority of Temple’s Main Campus falls under the 181st District.
In an interview with The Temple News, Thomas talked about his upcoming goals for his next term.
“At the top of the list is education,” Thomas said. He wants to abolish the School Reform Commission and return power to the School District of Philadelphia. Thomas said he prefers an elected school board, but would also be open to a board appointed jointly by the Mayor and City Council.
A proponent of gun control, Thomas also wants to add legislation for an exception for high violent-crime areas to restrict gun access.
“The PPD [Philadelphia Police Department] has jurisdiction on the firearms law,” Thomas said. “Whenever there’s an uptick in violence, [a county] should be able to petition the PPD and Attorney General to restrict access to guns.”
Thomas, who criticized the lack of coordination in regard to job creation between different airports in the state, also wants to change the way the Pennsylvania Airline system is structured. The 25-year legislator is looking to return control of some functions of the Philadelphia International Airport to the city itself. “The vendor part of [the airport] has been delegated to other states like Maryland,” Thomas said.
Thomas is also calling for better neighbor relations in his district, particularly around Temple. “We are sitting on a powder keg right now,” Thomas said.
“When a girl hits a student in the face with a brick, there’s a problem,” Thomas said, referring to the March assault of a female Temple student who was hospitalized after she was hit in the jaw with a brick. Thomas is calling for residents in the 181st District to move toward an effort for increased relations.
“It’s not something that’s going to happen on its own,” Thomas said. “You just can’t keep looking the other way.”
Thomas, who graduated from Temple in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, also called for an increase of students in the neighborhood to be accepted into Temple.
“Too many young people around the neighborhood can’t get into Temple,” Thomas said. “We’re talking about National Honors students who live two blocks from the university. How are they ending up at schools like North Carolina University, and can’t get into Temple?”
Thomas also called for Temple to change its acceptance policies, calling for a usage of “totality of experience,” which he said includes looking at the “background, experience, dreams, and capacity” of a student. “Right now acceptance is measured by academics and how much money you got,” Thomas said.
Christian Matozzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org