Five for Friday: A look at Philadelphia’s busy week

City & State breaks down Philly news from the first week of April

Mayor Cherelle Parker, Dave McCormick & Rep. Amen Brown

Mayor Cherelle Parker, Dave McCormick & Rep. Amen Brown Cherelle Parker for Mayor; Jeff Swensen:Getty Images; Commonwealth Media Services

There’s a lot going on in the southeast corner of the commonwealth. Philadelphia had plenty of politics and policy news popping up this week – and that’s not even counting the Phillies season getting into full swing and Sixers star Joel Embiid’s anticipated return from injury. All that took place as the wrestling world convenes in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection with Lincoln Financial Field playing host to Wrestlemania this weekend. 

Floods and earthquakes aside, there’s plenty of news you might have missed this week in Philadelphia. With that in mind, City & State has your Five for Friday, breaking down some of the city’s headlines from the first week of April. 

School board games

Mayor Cherelle Parker offered a first look at her picks for the School Board of Philadelphia, appointing five new members to the nine-person body, including two with strong past ties to charter schools and organizations. Parker announced the names on Monday, opting to retain board president Reginald Streater and three other current members. 

She also picked Crystal Cubbage, a former teacher and executive director for the Philadelphia Learning Collaborative; Cheryl Harper, a former Philadelphia district employee and distinguished educator for the Pennsylvania Department of Education; Whitney Jones, the chief financial officer at Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, who has also worked for the nationwide KIPP charter network and for a charter school consulting firm; Wanda Novales, founding CEO and principal of Pan American Charter School; and Joan Stern, a public finance attorney and former special counsel for the district. If confirmed, the new board will have seven women and two men.

Parker’s public safety push

Parker’s first bill signing was a continuation of her campaign promise of addressing public safety. The mayor signed three bills into law Wednesday aimed at cracking down on nuisance businesses and making it harder for people who have committed crimes to evade police. 

The first piece of legislation applies an 11 p.m. curfew to certain businesses in the city’s Kensington neighborhood, giving exceptions to businesses with a liquor license. The second bill prohibits casino-style “skill games” from operating within city businesses – such as corner stores and bodegas – with a similar exception for bars and restaurants. The last piece of legislation targets “tag-flipping” devices, which rotate license plates at the push of a button. Under the new law, people caught doing so will receive a $2,000 fine. 

McCormick raises the steaks

It ain’t easy being cheesy. Along with any political campaign comes the efforts to delve into local delicacies to appeal to voters. In Philadelphia, look no further than the cheesesteak. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick, who continues to be questioned about his residency in the commonwealth, followed in the footsteps of past politicians in stopping by Geno’s Steaks on Wednesday. 

McCormick, who was joined by former Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, spent time on the grill and getting a taste of the menu before answering questions from reporters. Without going into specifics on his abortion stance, McCormick called for “common ground” on contraception, broad support for adoption services, and restrictions on “late-term” abortions. 

Pressing ahead toward the primary

With this month’s primary election just weeks away, a handful of Philadelphia legislators are facing challengers from within the Democratic Party. In the 10th state House District, incumbent Amen Brown is facing two challengers in Sadja Blackwell and Cass Green. Brown beat Green by about 200 votes in the 2022 primary, but Green’s support from progressives and Blackwell’s connections as a community organizer could go a long way toward pulling off an upset. 

Three other incumbents face notable challengers in the city too. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who is also running for statewide auditor general, is running for reelection in the 180th district against Lewis Nash Sr., a pastor and recently removed Philadelphia ward leader, and NaDerah Griffin, who was a math and reading teacher and a board member and instructor for the Philadelphia Energy Authority’s solar power vocational program. State Rep. Rick Krajewski, who represents the 188th District, faces a challenger in Tony Dphax King, a former City Council candidate. And state Rep. Roni Green, who represents the 190th district, is once again facing off against James Jackson, who ran against Green as an Independent in 2022. 


In an attempt to crack down on riders jumping turnstiles, SEPTA is piloting a new gate at the 69th Street Station that opens and closes quickly and is guided by 3D imaging. About two dozen new gates have replaced the traditional turnstiles at the station, with an estimated $50 million ask from SEPTA should the pilot prove successful and the city take on full implementation of the new gates. 

SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards has said at least part of the money to fund the new gates could come from savings from stopping fare evaders. It’s estimated that fare evaders cost the transit agency up to $30 million a year in lost revenue.