West Philadelphia native and former municipal court judge James DeLeon, who holds a small business management certificate from the Wharton School, told The Daily Pennsylvanian that he wants to strengthen education, address gun violence, and engage with the Penn community as mayor.
“Penn is a very important center of higher education, not just in Philadelphia, but for the entire country, if not the world,” DeLeon said. “I need the University of Pennsylvania to continue being a leader in everything that’s needed.”
DeLeon said that Penn students are “very astute” at recognizing the issues facing Philadelphia and that the University community is “extremely important” in the election of the next mayor. Students will impact Philadelphia even after they graduate, DeLeon added.
“Eventually, you are going to graduate, but you want to make sure the next student in line is going to feel safe, is going to be secure, and is going to have a well-rounded education for what they came here for,” DeLeon said.
The mayoral candidate said that gun violence and public safety are critical issues in Philadelphia and particularly on Penn’s campus. His plan centers around a Penn study that showed that increasing urban green spaces and removing trash reduced gun violence by 29 percent.
“More green spaces and green areas in Philadelphia gives people tranquility, it gives people empathy, it helps people as far as their mental health is concerned and as far as their physical health is concerned,” DeLeon said.
Reflecting on his experience learning at Wharton, DeLeon told the DP that there were around 53 students in the course, and he was the only minority.
“That particular type of program is what’s needed for Black and Brown businesses in the city, and I, as mayor, would utilize Wharton to do the same type of program for Asian businesses, Hispanic businesses, and Black businesses,” DeLeon said, adding that he would create support programs through the Chambers of Commerce.
DeLeon also said he would institute a “higher learning task force” with Penn as the leader that would bring community members from Philadelphia universities together to discuss city-wide problems and utilize professionals’ expertise in the areas needed by the city.
DeLeon said that he should be Philadelphia's next mayor because he has a unique plan to address Philadelphia's needs.
“We have all of the pieces in Philadelphia that can solve our problems, but we just need to have a person that’s mayor who knows how to use it,” DeLeon said. “So I look upon myself as a carpenter with a toolbox — I see the job, and I know what tools I have in my toolbox that I can use to complete the job."