Anthony Pantalone, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Header Image credit: Philadelphia City Council
Mark Squilla, a City Councilman for Philadelphia’s 1st District and La Salle University alum, returned to his alma mater to speak to students in Dr. Foley’s State and Local Government class on Wednesday, Mar. 8. This visit included a lecture in which Councilman Squilla described his work as a member of city council, how he became involved in city politics, and the current issues facing his district and the city of Philadelphia. Following his lecture, students could ask the city councilman various questions. The 1st District, Squilla’s jurisdiction, spans from South Philadelphia all the way to Kensington and Port Richmond—typically called the “River Wards.” After studying computer science at La Salle University, Councilman Squilla would spend twenty-five years working in the Office of Pennsylvania’s Auditor General before his eventual political career. This councilman first became involved civically in Philadelphia with the restoration of a local playground in South Philly. He later would become a member of the Democratic City Committee in the late 90s. His political career in Philadelphia was elevated with an election to city council representing the 1st District in 2011—a position he has held for over eleven years. His many accomplishments include the Reading Viaduct restoration, the development of the East Passyunk Business Improvement District, and acting as the Chair of the City Council Streets Committee.
His visit to La Salle was a homecoming where this politician shared his experience and knowledge with the university’s political science students. Squilla spoke in depth about the work of his position, issues facing his particular district, and his own approach to being a public official. Within his district is Kensington—a Philly neighborhood rife with problems of drugs and crime in recent decades. This councilman understood and acknowledged the quagmire of Kensington and the myriad of issues facing people who live there. About the visit Dr. Foley said, “Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla provided the students in my State and Local Government class with very informative and valuable insights into his professional and political career and the critical issues confronting the City of Philadelphia.”
My own interaction with Squilla illustrated his sincerity and genuine care for his constituents. I had guided the councilman from 20th Street into Hayman Hall and was able to speak to him for a few minutes before the class. Whereas many politicians attempt to emphasize the prestige of being elected, Councilman Squilla recognizes the true nature of democracy and representative politics. Politicians are employed by citizens and must always answer to their constituents instead of seeing themselves as “above” the common citizen. Squilla understands this principle and attempts to politically live by it—vowing transparency and open direct communication with those in his district. He even spends hours late each night personally responding to e-mails sent to his office. Other local politicians would never be found doing the same. Helping constituents and bettering life for his district is of utmost importance for Squilla.