True Voices : A Conversation with David Oh on Immigration, Education, and Community
费城市长选举在即，欧大卫（David Oh）作为共和党候选人，将和民主党候选人切丽尔·帕克（Cherelle Parker）在11月进行最终对决。本篇报道是采访系列的第一篇，海华都市报记者将和欧大卫深入探讨美国和费城的重要社会问题，以了解候选人以及他对这些问题的看法。
This is the first of multiple interviews with David Oh, who is running as a Republican against Cherelle Parker in November. In each interview, we will dig deep into important issues in the nation and here in Philadelphia to get to know the candidates, the issues, and their perspectives on them.
I have been a strong proponent of immigrants and undocumented people.
Q: Republicans have made immigrants their punching bag for nearly a generation.
Q: How will you protect the immigrant community in Philadelphia?
A: I’d like to be fair; while Republicans are stereotyped as beating up on immigrants or, more accurately, undocumented aliens, so have Democrats. It’s really not a matter of party for the most part; it’s a matter of where you’re from.
If you’re from Texas or a border state, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, you’re probably for border security and other things. I have been a strong proponent of immigrants and undocumented people. Now, that doesn’t mean they are immune to law enforcement.
They are subject to law enforcement, and they are subject to immigration laws and the enforcement of immigration laws. However, that is not the role of the city government, nor the city government’s role to not cooperate with I.C.E. and other entities when dealing with criminals. I would cooperate with federal authorities for people who have committed violent crimes.
Now, I wouldn’t cooperate for things that are truly minor. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has changed the definition of what is a felony. In Pennsylvania, a felony is a crime punishable by up to seven years or more in the commonwealth. A misdemeanor is punishable by no more than five years, maximum. But I.C.E. has changed the definition of a felony to a crime punishable by more than one year. That’s a very different definition. We live in Philadelphia, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, so almost everything is punishable by more than one year, so that everything would be a felony by their standard.
While they’re here, I want them to do well. I want them to get an excellent education, get a good job, and build for the future, and they can always try to become documented. That’s one of the things about our country; there are many pathways to becoming documented. In the meantime, their children are entitled to an excellent education and everything else.
Photo Credit to City Council
Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania, we will continue to provide the available services.
Q: Republicans have been attacking Trans and women’s healthcare at the state and national levels. How will you protect healthcare in Philadelphia, specifically reproductive healthcare?
A: A lot of what we’re talking about here lies at the federal and state level, but we have healthcare centers that provide for a broad range of healthcare needs, whether it’s H.I.V. care or care for people transitioning or dealing with complications due to their transition from one gender to another. Those are things that are just a part of providing public healthcare, and we’re going to keep doing that.
The Supreme Court has dealt with whether abortion care is a constitutional fight, a federal dispute that could always be resolved through a constitutional amendment. In the meantime, abortion is legal in Pennsylvania, so there’s nothing for me to do there other than continue to provide the available services in accordance with the law.
Photo Credit to Metro Chinese Weekly
The best thing I can do is provide a less stressful environment
Q: There has been a massive rise in hate crimes nationwide, including in Philadelphia. As Mayor, how would you protect marginalized communities from these sorts of crimes and cool the rhetoric aimed at them?
A: I think the best thing the Mayor can do is provide a less stressful environment. What I mean is the more people can’t get a job, earn a living, or pay the rent, the more they feel they are somehow disadvantaged by other people; the more they tend to scapegoat other people. So, I would start by making life easier for people by providing a more efficient government that is more responsive. The next thing is to look at our city government, and many things can be done with technology regarding language and access. Making sure people can get the answers they need 24/7.
Recognizing things aren’t always constant; sometimes there’s Asian hate and anti-Asian violence, and sometimes it’s Anti-Semitism or Transphobia, Anti-Black racism. These things ebb and flow; sometimes, they are somewhat suppressed, and other times, they rise to the surface.
The Mayor should take an active role whenever and where bigotry arises in the city. It’s essential to stay within the realm of the law, within the frame of the constitution, understanding the First Amendment protects even speech we don’t like. The Government can’t be there to tell people what to think; they can tell them the law and hold them accountable when they step out of it. Hate speech is one of those issues where the First Amendment collides with the law and the public good; you can’t target people, especially with the intent to create harm directly or indirectly…You have to be careful here because there is a fine line between protected speech and hate speech.
美国某地发生了反 LGBTQ 的袭击，费城同性恋社区的人们对此非常担忧，担心这里可能会发生类似的袭击。我问了其中一个社区成员，是否希望在同性恋社区增加一两辆额外的巡逻车。我认为如果要这样做，是否应该将一些 LGBTQ 的警官派驻到那里，这样会更容易与社区成员沟通，了解和解决他们的问题。对亚裔社区也是一样。社区居民们是否想要会说中文、柬埔寨语或越南语的警官？
There was an anti-LGBTQ attack in another part of the country, and there was a lot of concern in the Gayborhood that there could be some sort of copycat attack here. So, I asked a person from the community who was in touch with me if they wanted an extra patrol car or two in the Gayborhood. I thought if we were going to do that, wouldn’t it be good to place some LGBTQ officers there, to use officers who the neighborhood would be more comfortable with, who knew their issues. The same goes for the Asian community. Do they want officers who speak Chinese, Cambodian, or Vietnamese?
Whatever group is affected, we have to go to them and ask them how they want to handle things. You can’t just send the police in because that may exasperate things. The community may feel not only are we being subjected to hate, but we’re also being overrun by the police, who also have a history of harming our community. So, we check first and hold open lines of communication with marginalized communities to catch these things before they get out of hand.
Photo Credit to Campaign events
We have wealthy and impoverished neighborhoods, and all schools should be the same regarding funding and quality of education.
Q: You said you wanted to open the school board to at least some elected positions if your goal is to protect children and improve their education. Is that a smart thing?
A: My point is no matter who’s Mayor, whether it’s me, Kenney, or Parker, we’re going to appoint people we think should be there, but the School District has been and is a proven failure for our kids.
Mayors have been selecting School Board members, but you’ve never really had a school board where people have thought you know they’re doing a bang-up job. So look, the politics are already there; I’m saying let’s get more accountability there. We’re not going to get a fully elected school board because the City and the State don’t want to give them taxing power, so let’s do a hybrid system. We have to break through the power dynamic to get people behind us.
Photo Credit to City Council
Q: How will you protect Philadelphia students from the harmful policies of groups like these?
A: It comes down to accountability and transparency; we have to make the school board more responsive to the communities they represent.
Q: You talk a lot about improving infrastructure in our schools, but I don’t hear you talking about enhancing kids’ mental health or making accessible things like tutoring or aftercare for poor working-class families. How would you get kids the extra mental health care and tutoring they need to develop into their best selves?
A: I take the position of global best practices in delivering a good quality education. Well, some things are just obvious, like transparency. How much money does the school district have, and how much of it ends up in the classroom? What is the difference in spending for a classroom in SW Philly, Germantown, North Philly, and Northeast Philly because they’re not supposed to be different? They’re supposed to be the same.
当人们谈论宾州的教育支出不平等时，可以把下梅里恩学区（ Lower Merion）与费城做一个比较。或者我们只看费城。不管下梅里恩，因为那只是一个小小的，富人扎堆的学区。看看我们的城市吧，我们有富裕和贫困的社区，所有学校的资金和教学质量都应该是均衡和平等的。
When people talk about how unfair education spending is in Pennsylvania… look at Lower Merion compared to Philadelphia; no, just look at Philadelphia. You don’t have to look at Lower Merion. That’s just a little tiny school district with a bunch of rich people. Look at our city; we have wealthy and impoverished neighborhoods, and all schools should be the same regarding funding and quality of education.
Each community needs to break out of the box and learn to pull their own money.
Q: I also don’t hear you talking about things like food or housing insecurity, which also impact student performance in the classroom. How would you address the issues that aren’t directly related to the district but have a huge impact?
A: I have a very different perspective from you, and I think our problem in these neighborhoods is a mentality problem. People are trapped in a box; they want the Government to do things for them, like provide mental healthcare, housing, food, etc. The Government can’t do that; it’s never been able to do that, but people keep waiting for it, and it will never happen.
Each of these communities needs to break out of this box and learn to come together and pull their money, and right now, people can’t do that because they’re trapped in this box.
People didn’t have copiers, computers, or cell phones to get on the Internet; people used the library for all these things. It was a community resource. It was peaceful in and around the library, even the gang kids. They were studying, reading, doing what they needed to do. People were quiet. If they weren’t, they were removed. There was discipline in the library, which is critically important for children, especially kids from broken homes and rough communities.
So when the library came to the City Council and said we need two million dollars from the City, we’re not going to charge fines for lost or stolen books in these poorer communities anymore. I opposed it. Because I felt it was very out of touch, it was a white suburban thing, you’re giving these kids charity, but you’re taking away a fundamental tool in these communities for learning credit, you’re also telling me you have no plan for these libraries that are vital resources for the community in these neighborhoods. This is a shared public resource. If you’re rich, you don’t care. You can buy a book, throw it away, it doesn’t matter, but if you’re poor, you need those books, those resources the library has. It is a shared public resource, so you appreciate it; you appreciate the park, swings, and basketball court. You’re not going to graffiti up the place; you’re not going to punch a hole in that basketball everyone is using; cut down the net. There is a sense of community-mindedness that I think is invaluable.
It’s for all of us. It’s crucial that when you have all these broken families, you make up for it through a societal perspective within your culture, your race within your impoverished community.
Photo Credit to Campaign events
If I were Mayor, I would turn that system into a system of credit where you could take out a violin, an electric guitar, a laptop computer, scientific equipment, and even a gaming console. What if we coordinated with the schools, and if you got good marks on that math test or at the end of the semester, we set it so you could keep that gaming console longer?
Schools are a critical issue; right now, they are shouting to these communities that we don’t care about them. So my campaign is about shaking things up, tearing them down if necessary to build them back up because I understand how corrupt this city is. We have to shake off the stagnation in City Hall, the School district, and these communities. We gotta shake them out of the box they’ve been pushed into.