A current law student and an alumnus are both campaigning for seats in the state House of Representatives. Malcolm Kenyatta, a 2012 public communication alumnus, is running to represent the 181st District, while third-year law student Maggie Borski hopes to represent the 177th District.
Kenyatta hopes to unseat Rep. Curtis Thomas, who is the state representative for Temple’s district. Borski decided to run for 177th District representative after long-time incumbent Rep. John Taylor announced he would retire.
A native North Philadelphia resident who lives on 18th Street near Jefferson, Kenyatta is running on a progressive platform with proposals to make college free for low-income residents in the area. He will encourage these students to attend Temple so the university is seen as “an option for kids in this neighborhood and not as an opposing force,” he said.
If elected, Kenyatta would replace Thomas, who has represented the 181st District for nearly 30 years.
Kenyatta left his job as senior coordinator of member engagement at the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia to devote his time to the campaign.
His focus is not only on education, but also on changing the way people talk about poverty in North Philadelphia.
“I didn’t like the way people were talking about my neighborhood,” Kenyatta said. “For too long, our communities have been held down and held back. Together we can unleash their possibility.”
As a Temple alumnus, Kenyatta has a “dual relationship” with the university and the surrounding community. He said Temple should change how it interacts with the community.
“We have to figure out what we can do to make this relationship work,” Kenyatta said. “But I will be honest, when Temple was doing things like pushing for a stadium that’s going to drastically have a negative impact on people’s daily lives, [Temple is] doing things that I think are going to make that relationship more tense, and I want to be a voice saying, ‘Hey, I think that’s the wrong way to go.’”
Borski said she saw running for office as something she would pursue “more down the line” — but she had a change of heart when Taylor decided not to seek re-election. This opportunity, coupled with the fact that about 20 percent of women currently hold public office, influenced her decision to run.
“It dawned on me that the time was now,” she added.
Borski is a northeast Philadelphia native who is still in law school, studying law and public policy while vying to be a representative.
When President Donald Trump was elected, she decided she had to do more for the country.
“[Trump’s election] lit a fire beneath me,” she added.
Her focuses include making higher education more affordable, encouraging her constituents to engage in civil service and finding strategies to fight the opioid epidemic.
“The opioid epidemic is a major issue, especially in Philadelphia,” Borski said.
She has seen how addiction has damaged her community and “how old policies have been ineffective,” according to Borski’s campaign website.
Nearly 68 percent of Pennsylvania inmates have substance use problems, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
She said she believes that Harrisburg “needs to get serious” about combating the drug epidemic with a holistic approach that focuses on education and addiction treatment, instead of incarceration of nonviolent offenders.
“We need to start brainstorming ideas and looking at things through a different lens and try to help Pennsylvanians and Philadelphians alike,” she added.