Former city councilmember and 1993 College graduate Helen Gym is dedicated to neighborhood safety, strengthening public education and affordable housing, bolstering economic growth, and creating a sustainable city, according to her campaign website.
The mayoral candidate was recently on Penn's campus to join a rally in support of resident advisors and graduate associates’ efforts to unionize. At the rally, which included around 70 community members, Gym said that when she was a Penn student, she benefited from having an RA. She added that the issue has become "much more personal" as a mother of a current Penn student and after meeting current RAs.
“RAs are often the first people who notice when a young person is struggling or having academic issues and don’t necessarily feel safe talking to someone formal," Gym, who is also a 1996 graduate of the Graduate School of Education, said.
Gym also recently attended an event co-hosted by Penn Democrats and the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, where she discussed Penn’s role in Philadelphia and her campaign. She told the DP that Penn is a “vibrant, important part” of Philadelphia. “I feel a tremendous investment in the University and in its evolution to help us become a better society," Gym said.
Gym added that she believes Penn also has an important role to play in the context of neighborhood and community integration efforts.
"Penn is no longer the 'old ivory tower,' but actually the partner and well-integrated within a diverse and evolving West Philadelphia, but its mission is not to accelerate a displacement," Gym said. "It's to show and prove that we can develop without displacement, that we can create affordability."
At the event, Gym emphasized safety as her top priority in responses to audience questions. She highlighted her goals of establishing a city-wide emergency, improving 911 response times, and prioritizing mental health intervention, which she previously mentioned in an interview with the DP in December.
Penn Young Democratic Socialists of America board member and College junior Taja Mazaj, who is also a DP staffer, previously told the DP that the student organization will be endorsing Gym for mayor.
“Gym is not running just to run. She’s actually willing to [support] our concerns and have a sense of solidarity with issues that are affecting Philadelphians,” Mazaj said in support of her club’s endorsement decision.