J. Matthew Wolfe announces his campaign for a City Council special election to be held May 20 on the Republican party ticket. Credit: Sam Newhouse/Metro
At the Mill Creek Tavern in West Philadephia, local Republican committeeman J. Matthew Wolfe pledged to "bring a different perspective to City Council" if elected to former councilman Bill Green's seat, which will on the ballot in a May 20 special election.
"Philadelphia is one of the poorest big cities in America. That didn’t happen by accident," Wolfe told a crowd of 40 at the announcement. "It was the deliberate actions of the political class, putting their power above what's best for the people, voting for things that enabled them to stay in office rather than improve the city."
Wolfe, who still needs to be formally nominated March 19 at a meeting of Republican ward leaders, hopes to run against Democratic nominee State Rep. Ed Neilson.
Wolfe, who has been involved in numerous groups and community organizations in West Philadelphia, called himself a "community activist" and said cutting taxes would stimulate economic growth and improve the health of the city.
He also sharply criticized Philadelphia's City Council.
"There's room to lower taxes," Wolfe said. "The city of Philadelphia cannot be all things to all people. Every time somebody in City Council has a bright idea on how to spend your money, we can't just enact it because it sounds like a nice idea. Philadelphia needs to focus on core municipal responsibilities -- public safety, public education ... sanitation, maintenance of transportation and utility infrastructure."
Wolfe cited new developments and rising property values in West Philadelphia and University City as evidence that the city could have a healthy future.
"That’s happening frankly in spite of what's going on at City Hall," Wolfe said. "It shows the direction we can go."
Wolfe also urged attendees to vote "No" on the Resign-to-Run city charter amendment that will be a ballot question on May 20. The amendment seeks to alter the city charter so that elected officials don't have to resign their position before running for another elected office.
If elected, Wolfe would join three other Republicans at council -- Councilman David Oh, Councilman Dennis O'Brien, and Councilman Brian O'Neil.