I was raised in a blue-collar and white-collar household. My mother was a white-collar shop steward for Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 1040 for the State of New Jersey in Trenton, NJ. My father was a blue-collar member of Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 135 in Norristown, PA.
I marched alongside my parents for civil rights and equality. The desire to fight continues today as I am a member of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) Member, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist (CBTU), and an AFL-CIO member. The fight against police brutality, minimum wage, and the fight for immigration protection, unfortunately, is still ongoing. However, it must not be forgotten that those fights are fought on the foundation that was established by civil minded individuals and labor.
Being raised by a close-knit family gave me a strong sense of self and instilled values in me that I hold dear. My 95-year-old grandmother taught me, unconditional love, my mother taught me to be non-judgmental, my aunt taught me to never give up on my dreams and my father taught me the value of taking care of family and helping others when you can.
Severely asthmatic since birth, my childhood was not typical — I spent many days and holidays in the hospital. When I was 8, I suffered a particularly bad asthma attack and I was sent to the Atlantic City Seashore House. I lived there for 2 years with other children who were also chronically ill and needed to learn how to manage their ailments as well. While there, I was taught breathing exercises to lower the possibility of an attack and how to administer percussion on my chest to loosen the mucus. Those years taught me independence and inspired me to want to help anyone that I could.
I grew up in Trenton until my mother and I relocated to the Hamilton when I was in the 8th grade. That was where I encountered my first taste of racism, as I was the only person of color who rode the school bus. Whatever you can imagine happened – but those experiences did not make me bitter. Instead, I became aware of how I could be perceived by others. I graduated from Steinert High School in 1985, as one of two African American students out of a class of 200.
In 1988, my eldest son’s mother, and I became parents while in college; she at Seton Hall University and me at Temple University. Seventeen years later, I completed my Bachelor’s Degree from Temple University. In 1994, I was hired by Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) as a Bus Operator. During my 26 years there, I have held many blue and white-collar positions.
My wife Karen and I married in 2004 and we have two sons. We moved from North Wilmington into the city because we are city folk.
Karen’s love, support, and encouragement made my decision to pursue my Master’s degree in Human Resources and Employee Relations and currently my MBA at Penn State possible.
If I didn’t feel a sense of pride and connection to the city of Wilmington, I would have never encouraged my eldest son to relocate his wife and children to Wilmington. I believe in the city and its potential. Wilmington’s current growth is raising the profile of our city. Our city is far from perfect and has its challenges, such as youth crime, violence, housing blight, and high levels of poverty throughout the city.
These challenges cannot and will not be corrected overnight. To address these concerns we need City Council Members who are loyal and true to the city and to its residents. Just as important, we need the residents to hold City Council members accountable to do their jobs.
Even though I am running for the 2nd Council District, I will work with the entire council to provide opportunities for all residents. We must show that Wilmington is a city that values its residents.
I am running to protect the values of the 2nd District. I want to be the advocate that speaks and addresses the issues and concerns that plague our district.
Most importantly, I am running to Put the 2nd District first!
In order to move our district forward, we need someone who will show up, speak up, and fight for our district.
I am that person!