从刷鞋洗碗到亿万身家, 前市议员Allan Domb为何竞选费城市长?

Allan Domb
记者/Reporter:Keano Tsao编辑/Editor: 李 蓓


In the eyes of many people, Allan Domb is seen as the Philadelphia “Condo King” who owns more than 400 real estate properties. He is also a billionaire with a total asset of $400 million, and a wealthy man who spent six years as a city councilor to understand policies and public sentiment, and spent $7 million to run for mayor.
在记者眼中,艾伦·多姆则是另外一副模样。他是坐着Mini Cooper在唐人街路边停车的费城人;他是一边喝着中国茶一边和你聊天的长辈;他是目光坚毅,不按套路出牌的政治家。
According to our reporter, Allan Domb presents a different image. He is a neighbor who parks his Mini Cooper on the side of Chinatown. He is an elder who enjoys chatting over a cup of Chinese tea. He is a politician with a firm gaze who doesn’t adhere to conventional methods.
Allan Domb visited Philadelphia Chinatown on April 14 and granted an exclusive interview to Metro Chinese Weekly. The following special report is based on the interview and aims to provide insight into Allan Domb, the candidate for the 100th mayor of Philadelphia.
Photographed by Metro Chinese





The children of the poor are early masters. 



Our interview with Allan Domb begins with his background. To the surprise of our reporter, he was not a wealthy second-generation individual born “with a silver spoon in his mouth.” In fact, his family was not even considered “middle class and well-off”.
Allan Domb did not come from a wealthy family and experienced life’s hardships at a young age. The old Chinese saying “the children of the poor are early masters” is especially fitting for Allan Domb.

Allan Domb recounted a childhood story where his family lived in an 800-square-foot apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey, right across the water from New York City. The apartment had two bedrooms, one bathroom, and cost $100 per month.At one point, they went without hot water for two weeks. Allan’s mother called the landlord, who owned the 49-unit apartment building, and asked for help. The landlord responded, ‘How dare you call me on a Sunday?

于是,艾伦的妈妈又打电话到李堡市长办公室要热水。两天后,热水来了。不过,“一周后,由于妈妈的投诉,我们全家被房东驱逐,勒令在30天之内搬家。” 这段经历让艾伦尝到了被人驱逐和游离失所的滋味,刻骨铭心。
Instead, Allan Domb’s mother called the mayor of Fort Lee for help, and within two days, they had hot water. However, a week later, the landlord evicted them with 30 days to move out because of the complaint. As a result of this experience, Domb claims that “I know what eviction is like and having unstable housing. I understand it all.”

Photo credit to technical.ly


He also talked about how he had a “strong work ethic instilled by my parents.” He recalls shining shoes with his brother from “5:30 in the morning till 7:35” when he was just 5 years old, delivering newspapers before and after school at 11, and during his high school years working as a janitor and then a dishwasher for minimum wage.
高中毕业后,艾伦就读于华盛顿特区的美国大学。大学期间,他在课余时间为马里兰州凯亚茨维尔的Phelps Time Lock Service公司工作,推销安保系统。1976年,在大学毕业获得市场营销学位之后,他来到费城,为Phelps Time Lock Service费城分公司工作,21岁的艾伦“管理着10到15人的团队,用两年半的时间,把业务量翻了三倍”,并获得了每周10美元的加薪。
After high school, Domb attended American University in Washington D.C. Afterward, he started selling security systems in Hyattsville, Maryland. In 1976, he graduated with a marketing degree and came to work for Phelps Time Lock Service in Philadelphia, managing “10 to 15 people” at the age of 21. In Philadelphia, he “tripled their business after two and a half years” and was subsequently rewarded with a $10 per week raise.
Later, Domb earned his real estate license from Temple University and worked two full-time jobs. He worked at his first full-time job from 8 AM to 6 PM and then worked at the real estate office from 6:30 PM to 10:30 PM from Monday to Thursday, from 6:30 PM to 8 PM on Friday, and “7 to 9 hours” on Sundays. He would also “take my one-hour lunch break to return phone calls.” After three years, he went into real estate full-time.



Take personal action to help Asian SMEs


说到艾伦·多姆对亚裔中小企业的帮扶,要从一个真实的故事说起。MEIMEI是一家在新冠疫情期间遭受重创的餐馆。这家位于南费城的中餐厅,在疫情前夕刚刚开门营业。在挺过了“封城”,仅靠外卖和室外就餐区维持生意的时候,餐馆的老板兼主厨Jay Ho却因为合同纠纷,接到了餐馆业主方的驱逐令。

To illustrate Allan Domb’s support for Asian SMEs, we can start with a true story. MEIMEI, a Chinese restaurant in South Philadelphia that opened its doors just before the pandemic, has been hit hard by COVID-19. To survive the city’s lockdown, the restaurant relied on takeout and outdoor dining. However, the building’s operator issued an eviction order to Jay Ho, the owner and chef, due to contract disputes.

2020年12月28日,Mei Mei的老板Jay Ho站在关闭的餐厅前
Mei Mei owner Jay Ho stands in front of his shuttered restaurant on Monday, December 28, 2020.
图片来源:the Inquirer Photo credit to the Inquirer

2020年11月29日,MEIMEI餐厅的外墙被木板封住,门上了锁。在Jay Ho被安保拒之门外之后,他在社交媒体上发布了求助贴。巧的是,这条求助贴刚好被艾伦·多姆看到,当天他就联系到餐厅和业主双方,坐下来好好聊。

On November 29, 2020, the exterior wall of MEIMEI Restaurant was boarded up and the door was locked. After Jay Ho was turned away by security, he posted his story on Instagram. Coincidentally, Allan Domb happened to see the post and contacted both the restaurant owner and the company that operates the building, and sat down to talk on the same day.
艾伦·多姆以投资者、餐馆老板和房东的丰富经验,帮助Jay Ho和业主方搁置分歧,经过7个小时的谈判,最终达成协议。MeiMei于2021年1月重张开业。
With his extensive experience as an investor, restaurant owner, and landlord, Allan Domb helped Jay Ho and the company put aside their differences. After seven hours of negotiations, they finally reached an agreement, and MeiMei was able to reopen in January 2021.
“我很乐意帮忙。在费城,每一位居民和每一个企业的成功都是这座城市的成功。”在采访中,艾伦·多姆(Allan Domb)回忆起他过去为支持费城的企业所做的一切。特别是在新冠疫情期间,他和很多“餐馆、酒店、健身房和其它行业的小企业家”会面,并询问他们“我能为你做些什么?”
Allan Domb expressed his willingness to help and stated, “I’m just happy to help. Every resident’s and business’s success in this city is our success, too.” He also shared how he had previously supported businesses in Philadelphia during the COVID-19 pandemic by meeting with various entrepreneurs, such as restaurants, hotels, and gyms, and asking them directly, “How do I help you?”
It seems that Allan Domb’s efforts resulted in 862 restaurants across Philadelphia being able to take advantage of outdoor dining during the pandemic. Furthermore, he pushed for a streamlined process for applications for outdoor seating to be approved within three days. According to Domb, having set and organized time frames for applications is an important step in improving business in Philadelphia.
Domb argues that “you should be able to open a restaurant and we should be able to tell you that it will take you 60 days. You want to open a barber shop? It will take you 30 days. You have a zoning change? It will take you 90 days. We need to revamp our systems and attach timeframes, so the government understands that time is essential to a small entrepreneur.”
Domb also mentioned how he lowered the “taxation policies for an entrepreneur or a restaurant or any small business” to 15.9% by “working with the Asian American Chamber…the African American Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, and LGBTQ [chamber].” He believes that having a lower tax rate allows businesses to “reinvest in their businesses, create jobs, and expand their businesses.”
Another tax-related initiative Domb has is to reduce the “Net Income Tax of almost 6%” to 0% over the span of 10 years, which he says would “dramatically help small, medium, and large entrepreneurs and businesses and employers” and create “100,000 good-paying, family sustaining jobs” according to a study he says he conducted with an economic consultant called Econsult Solutions.

Photographed by Metro Chinese


Domb has also proposed having bilingual staff in the Commerce Department who can speak various languages to assist Asian-owned and other language-speaking businesses. Additionally, he believes that making Philadelphia more hospitable would make business easier, such as having a friendly greeting when someone calls the City of Philadelphia, such as “Thank you for calling the City of Philadelphia, how may we assist you?”
Domb believes that a welcoming environment would attract more entrepreneurs to Philadelphia, and he suggests that the Commerce Department should assist entrepreneurs from the initial stages of opening a business until its inauguration. According to him, the process of setting up a business is so complicated that many people become frustrated and discouraged. Therefore, he emphasizes the importance of having a dedicated and helpful team that can guide entrepreneurs through the process and make it easier for them.
It seems that Domb is suggesting that the mayor should promote the safety of the city, including Chinatown, more actively to attract more traffic to the area. According to a report by the Brookings Institution, the core of the city, including Chinatown, is safer than it has been in the past several years, including 2018 and 2019. Domb believes that if this fact were more widely known, it would benefit not only Center City but also Chinatown, which has been losing traffic to other areas, such as the suburbs.
Why should suburbanites and outsiders come to the city in the first place? Besides the economic benefit that more visitors would have, “all the fun occurs in the city, with the cultural restaurants that we have and the city’s sports teams… looking at what happened when the Phillies were winning, when the Eagles were winning. It wasn’t happening in Ardmore. It was happening in the city. That’s where it was happening. And so we just have to get the public safety under control. But we also need someone who’s the cheerleader for the city… You’re the sub of the urb. We’re the urb.”




Why did he run for mayor when he could have retired?


Many people may have such doubts. Allan Domb is sitting on hundreds of millions of fortunes and “dominating the wind and rain” in his business kingdom. Serving as a city councilor for two terms has also expanded his circle of political friends. If it were someone else, they would like to enjoy their retirement life. Furthermore, being the mayor of Philadelphia is not easy, and one might face criticism. Why does Allan Domb ask for trouble?
Domb said he “resigned from council and ran for the mayor, because the city has a crisis, a public safety crisis. We have a good-paying jobs crisis. We have a housing affordability crisis, and an education and poverty crisis.”
However, the “best takeaway from this interview” Domb wants us to take is that the biggest crisis of them all is “the crisis of leadership, with strong leadership, you can solve all these problems. You look at any business, any government, any institution, you have strong leadership, you have success. We need that leadership in the city of love.”

Photographed by Metro Chinese


“Well, I come from a different experience. So I have a different vision.” But how does Domb have a different experience and vision than other candidates? He said that his “40 years in the private sector, as an entrepreneur, building a business from scratch, creating great jobs, and really building up the city” coupled with his “almost two terms on council in government” make him the “only candidate who has that type of experience in both sectors,” which he says makes him unique. Domb also says that his experience in business has made him able to understand “what it takes to be successful” and “that every entrepreneur’s success is the city’s success.”
“I published on my website an ethics plan that says I’ll be stepping away from everything. But at this point of my life, whether I made an extra $100 or not, it’s not going to affect me at all. I don’t have a big means.”




Not following others,
he promised Philadelphia a bright future!


As Allan Domb said, his experience in the business gave him a different perspective. When it comes to solving the problems facing Philadelphia, he also does not follow the usual routines, which makes people shine.
In the interview, he stated to reporters his strategy for solving the public safety crisis in Philadelphia after taking office. “On my first day in office, I will declare a criminal emergency in Philadelphia and a public health emergency in Kensington!”.
If elected mayor, Allan Domb will also convene “a weekly meeting, whether it’s one hour or six hours, of the police commissioner, District Attorney, FBI, ATF, Attorney General’s Office, US Attorney, courts, PATCO and SEPTA security, and EDS and MED security. Bringing together, because the key here is to collaborate with everybody to get to the outcome of getting this crime down.” He added, “I will also develop a 10-point public safety plan, which can be found on my campaign website votedomb.com.”
Here’s the 10 point public safety plan on Allan Domb’s website, votedomb.com, that he says will be implemented in Domb’s first 100 days as mayor:
● 上任第一天,宣布费城进入犯罪紧急状态
Declare a crime emergency on his first day in office
● 严厉打击非法枪支
Aggressively crackdown on illegal guns
● 宣布肯辛顿进入公共卫生紧急状态
Declare a public health emergency in Kensington
● 让非法车辆从街道上消失
Get illegal vehicles off the street
● 严厉打击针对零售的盗窃和惯犯
Crackdown on retail theft and repeat offenders
● 加大对市政雇员暴力行为的处罚力度
Increase penalties for violence against city employees
● 用三倍经费来招聘警察
Triple funding for recruitment of police officers
● 扩大保护计划,防止基于种族、宗教、性别、性取向和性别认同的暴力
Expand programs to protect against violence based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity
● 在每一所高中安装摄像头,加强与学校领导的协调
Install cameras at every high school, increase coordination with school leaders
● 清理每一块空地,封闭每一栋废弃建筑
Clean every vacant lot, seal every abandoned building
在改善费城公立教育的问题上,艾伦·多姆更是独辟蹊径, 侧重于用商业和金融方法来解决问题。他希望费城的年轻人们像他一样努力工作并取得成功,希望“从学前班到12年级,全面教授理财知识。孩子们在学习知识的同时,还应该学习如何创业。”
Allan Domb’s approach to reforming public schools is more business and finance-focused, making it more unique than other candidates’ ideas. He said that he wants kids in Philadelphia to work hard and become successful like he has and wants to “teach financial literacy, kindergarten to 12th grade, across the board. I want to teach technology K through 12, and I want to teach entrepreneurship.”
Domb also proposed implementing a program where “students go to school four days a week, but on the fifth day, working a job, get credit, and get paid.” He said that this would “take young people and give them a tremendous opportunity for a job, get them off the street. They’ll graduate with different job experiences.” He also mentioned the labor shortage as a problem that this would address.
Domb cited Cristo Rey High School in North Philadelphia as an example of a school that does this program, “and it’s for families who have suffered severe violence in their family. These kids go to school four days a week, they work one day a week at a job in high school…. Last year, they graduated 99% of the kids, and of the 99%, 100% were admitted to college.”
Allan Domb seeks to find a win-win solution for the 76ers’ new arena plan. He argues that the “decision shouldn’t be made now” and that it should be up to the next mayor whether or not to allow the arena to be built.
“And as the next mayor, what I would do is I would call a meeting of all parties” which include, according to him, Chinatown, the Sixers, SEPTA and Jefferson Station, Jefferson Hospital, “because of congestion [and] getting emergency vehicles to Jefferson Hospital,” and others.
在艾伦·多姆看来,大家不应该把76人队新球馆视为“真空”,附近的警察局和非裔美国人博物馆也应该同时被考虑进去,因为它们也需要改造。“我们必须把所有的事摆在桌面上, 让大家明明白白。”
Domb also thinks that we should not think of the Sixers stadium “in a vacuum” and should also consider the police station and African American Museum, which would need to be redeveloped. He claims that “we have to have everything out in the open. Everything has to be transparent.”
Domb also supports the Vine Street Expressway capping project, which aims to reconnect the Northern and Southern halves of Chinatown by covering specific sections of the expressway.





After the interview, Allan Domb excitedly wandered around Philadelphia’s Chinatown and took photos in front of the iconic Chinese archway. If he hadn’t been rushing off to the next campaign event, you might have seen him talking to friends with a cup of bubble tea in hand.

Photographed by Metro Chinese

看到他钻进Mini Cooper的背影,记者不由得发出感概,艾伦·多姆是如此不同,却有如此相同。他和所有费城人一样,都深深爱着这座城市。

Seeing him squeezing himself into the Mini Cooper against the backdrop of Philly’s Chinatown, we couldn’t help but feel that Allan Domb is both different and similar to the people of Philadelphia. Like all Philadelphians, he loves the city deeply.
本篇报道是Every Voice, Every Vote项目的系列文章之一。
This story is part of the Every Voice, Every Vote series.

Allan Domb与华裔选民举行小型座谈会


Philadelphia mayoral candidate Allan Domb is scheduled to host a small forum with voters at EMei Restaurant, and visit store owners in Chinatown and on Wednesday, May 10th at 1pm. If you’re interested in participating, please scan the QR code below on WeChat to contact us.
费城市长候选人Allan Domb计划于5月10日(周三)下午1点,在峨嵋山庄与华裔选民举行小型座谈会,并拜访唐人街的店主。如果您有兴趣参加,请扫描下方二维码联系我们。



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