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Credit: Chase Sutton

Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2020 Democratic primary on Tuesday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

1993 College graduate Gym, a former Daily Pennsylvanian and 34th Street editor, was first elected to Council in 2015 and was reelected in 2019, when she received the most votes for at-large seats, the Inquirer reported. Despite Sanders’ wins in early states, Gym is just the second elected official in Pennsylvania to endorse Sanders, according to the Inquirer. Representative Sara Innamorato, who represents parts of Pittsburgh, endorsed Sanders last year.

Gym co-authored an opinion piece in the Inquirer with Sanders last summer to protest the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital due to bankruptcy. Sanders and Gym wrote in the opinion piece about his plans for a Medicare for All system that would guarantee coverage to all people.

“We are going to invest in health-care facilities that operate in underserved areas, and we are going to end the culture of corporate greed that is denying health care to millions of people in the richest country on Earth,” Sanders and Gym wrote in the Inquirer.

Gym told the Inquirer that fears among the Democratic Party about Sanders are unwarranted. 

“I see it as, who is speaking to the needs of everyday Pennsylvanians?” Gym told the Inquirer. “In a city where an oil refinery exploded on national TV, leaving us with contaminated neighborhoods and lost jobs, this is not an abstract thing. His agenda for housing, for debt-free college, for clean air and water and health care for all and strong public schools, is in no way a left agenda. It’s what the Democratic Party used to be, and it’s time to take it back.”

Gym originally ran in 2015 for the Philadelphia Council at-large on a platform of education and housing reform. As an activist-turned-lawmaker, Gym told the Inquirer that Sanders’ connection to grassroots mobilization also inspired her to endorse him.

“I’ve seen movements reshape our city and state, and I believe in the power of movements to reshape our country. Bernie Sanders doesn’t just talk about movements for change. He leads them,” Gym told the Inquirer. 

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