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In the upcoming general election Rue Landau will be on a ballot for one of Philadelphia's Council seats and is likely to become one of the city's newest Council members (Photo from Landau Campaign).

Rue Landau is set to become the first openly LGBTQ member of the Philadelphia City Council.

Activism and community engagement have guided Landau's political journey, and her plans for the City Council center on public safety, neighborhood reinvestment, and affordable housing. The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with Landau about her experience with public service and her goals for Philadelphia.

Landau began her activist career soon after graduating college, working with groups such as the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and ACT UP Philadelphia to provide housing and health care for low-income individuals throughout the city. After completing law school at Temple University, she continued to assist Philadelphians secure housing at Community Legal Services, which provides free legal assistance to low-income clients.

During this time, Landau found that her LGBTQ identity allowed her to form deeper connections with some residents and understand their unique situations. 

“Whether it was representing tenants who are same-sex couples or transgender people who were facing eviction, it was very important to me that I was a member of the [LGBTQ] community,” Landau said.

Landau was working with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations during the election of former President and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump in 2015. She said that the Commission received an increased number of reports of hate and bias in the city after the election, and she began to feel the broader weight of her LGBTQ and Jewish identities.

“My decision to run was definitely informed by what I was seeing out in the community,” Landau said. “Having a seat at the table and being one of the decision makers — and a leader who could be a role model for other people in the community — was very important to me."

On May 20, 2014 — the day a federal judge ruled that Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage violated the Constitution — Landau and her wife were the first couple to arrive at Philadelphia City Hall. At the time, they believed that they had received the first same-sex marriage license in Philadelphia. They later learned that theirs was the first in the state

“Because I’ve been doing [anti-discrimination] work for so many years, it felt extra sweet to get the first same-sex marriage license,” Landau said. “It was like living the history of equality."

Should she be elected to City Council, Landau plans to continue fighting for fair and affordable housing. She explains that the housing crisis has worsened as subsidized housing contracts for many buildings expire—a recent example being the University City Townhomes. She proposes preserving homeownership through programs that fund home repairs for low-income homeowners as a possible solution to the issue.

“Homeownership,” according to Landau, "[is] a way to pass down generational wealth that has been extracted from African American communities and other communities of color.”  

Landau believes that greater investment in communities to promote safe, green, and healthy living will help reduce crime rates in Philadelphia. She explained her plan to expand access to city services and transportation and fully fund recreation centers, libraries, and schools. 

“It’s time that we turn around the problems in this city, that we take accountability, that we stand up and say, ‘Now is the time for significant change,’” Landau said. 

The key to this change, according to Landau, is greater collaboration between new leaders across Philadelphia. She believes that major progress is only possible through cooperation across all city districts.

In the general election on Nov. 7, Landau will be on a ballot consisting of five Democratic and five Republican nominees vying for the city’s seven at-large Council seats. Given Philadelphia's status as a blue city, she will likely become one of the city's newest Councilmembers.  

“I strongly believe that our new leaders will be able to work together to tackle the crises and to start charting a path towards a better Philadelphia for all of us,” Landau said. “I’m all in, and I can’t wait to get the work done.”