State Rep. Kenyatta Johnson has secured endorsements from Mayor Michael Nutter and the Fraternal Order of Police. He has name recognition as a result of defeating Harold James in 2008 for a state House seat in Harrisburg. And he’s racked up some big-name donors.
So his bid to succeed Councilwoman Anna Verna in the 2nd District should be a cakewalk, right? Maybe not.
Johnson, the protege of state Sen. Anthony Williams, is in a competitive race with Packer Park realtor Barbara Capozzi and longtime community activist Tracey Gordon. Johnson is not taking his supposed edge for granted.
“I appreciate the mayor’s vote of confidence in me. … But it’s the people who will decide, and I appreciate the groundswell of support,” he said of the Nutter endorsement.
There has been some discussion about Johnson splitting the black vote with Gordon in a district that is slightly less than 50 percent African-American. Gordon, however, refuses to acknowledge her underdog status and said she is “more known for action” than her opponents.
“What I’m going to do is cause a collision, a train wreck because I’m going after the voters that have given up on Philadelphia government,” said Gordon, a mother of four.
Capozzi, meanwhile, has poured $65,000 into her campaign, according to finance reports. She’s scored her own big endorsement from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
“Some voters may make their minds up based on endorsements, but I believe that my record speaks for itself and should be the basis for judging me as a candidate,” she said.
Big issue: Education
Improving school safety and the city graduation rate is a major focus of each candidate.
Capozzi opposes school vouchers, now a hot-button issue in the region. She also wants to eradicate bullying.
Gordon, a mother of four, has worked as support staff in the schools. While she has mainly focused on beautifying neighborhoods and quality of life issues, she said she wants educators to develop other teaching methods.
Johnson’s involvement with education includes starting an organization called Peace Not Guns and as a member of the House Children and Youth Committee.