More Than 800 Latino Democratic Delegates
Philadelphia – Citing the city’s historical significance, transportation, hotel room capacity and other amenities, Philadelphia was selected by Democratic National Committee to host the 2016 Democratic Convention, Thursday, a distinction that will follow the visit of Pope Francis ten months earlier.
“It’s putting Philadelphia back on the map,” declared Philadelphia Financial Analyst Jeanette Hernandez Harris.
“Philadelphia’s deep-rooted place in American history provides a perfect setting for this special gathering,” said Democratic National committee Chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who announced the selection.
With access to some 19,000 hotel rooms and transportation near South Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center -where the Convention will be centered – Rep. Wasserman Schultz said, “We want to make sure our delegates leave the convention feeling excited and unified.”
According to former Pennsylvania Governor and Mayor of Philadelphia, Ed Rendell, the host committee has pledged to raise $85 million for the event. El Hispano obtained the views of local leaders and businessmen and women on the July – 2016 political gathering.
Varsovia Fernandez, Pres. and CEO of GPHCC, told El Hispano, “We believe that this is an extraordinary opportunity for us all in the Philadelphia region. As with all major projects, we have a greater chance to secure work or projects for local individuals and businesses. So we are very excited and grateful to all involved for bringing this opportunity to our City.”
Ms. Fernandez added, “We will make every effort to be part of the procurement and fulfillment for the convention to bring opportunity to qualified Latino businesses.”
“The convention should produce a huge direct economic benefit for the hospitality industry and workers in that industry,” an impact of “several hundred million dollars,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Stack. “Even more important, perhaps, is the national and international exposure that the city and region will gain. That will continue to pay dividends for years beyond the convention.”
Mayoral candidate and former City Councilman Jim Kenney praised the united efforts of “Governor Rendell, Congressman Brady, Mayor Nutter, City Council, Visit Philly, PHLCVB and all the others who worked tirelessly to bring the DNC’s convention to Philadelphia.”
“As a councilman, I saw first hand the effort that went into making Philadelphia’s tourism and hospitality industries stronger than ever. I especially thank City Council for coming together last year to introduce a resolution that expressed Philadelphia’s sincerest interest in hosting this tremendous honor and bringing an economic boost to our city.”
For Ward leader Emilio Vazquez it was Bob Brady who “made this Convention possible. He was really the one that lobbied for this and made it happen.”
“It’s going to mean a lot of money, we’re talking hundreds of million of dollars that are going to be pumped into the economy,” added Mr. Vazquez of the predominantly Latino 43rd Ward. “It’s good for everyone, from businesses to jobs.”
“It’s awesome,” enthused Jeanette Hernandez Harris, owner of Financial Integrity Management of Philadelphia. “It’s putting Philadelphia back on the map, and it’s letting people know that Philadelphia is strong and very involved in the democratic process.”
Among the twenty-something political organizers in the city, Vicente Diaz told El Hispano, “I think it’s amazing. It’s going to bring a lot of tourism and a lot of much needed money to the city.”
“As a result of the convention, you’re going to see a lot of improvements to the city that should have been done a long time ago.”
City Managing Director and Deputy Mayor Richard Negrin dismissed a New York newspaper’s suggestion of a “Resurgence” in Philadelphia, and said via Facebook and Twitter, “We’ve been here all along.”
The newly appointed Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Pedro Rivera, told El Hispano that he viewed the convention as an “opportunity” to educate students about how democracy works: “it is very important that Pennsylvania students understand how our political system works and what roll each of them plays in or nation’s democracy. I believe that education is the one true equalizer.”
“I expect teachers to engage students in discussion about the political process,” added Secretary Rivera, “and inspire them to transform their ideas and beliefs, whatever they might be, into actions that benefit the community.”
“It’s going to work out great for the city,” said Octavio Ruiz of Hunting Park. “We need the money it will bring.”
During the 2012 Democratic Convention –which featured a Keynote address by HUD Secretary Julian Castro- nearly 800 Latinos delegates were represented, a record number for the Democratic Party.
On the heels of the selection of Philadelphia as the site for the Democratic convention, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) held a Press Conference on Wednesday, calling for “expediting planned upgrades to the 30th Street Station’s basic infrastructure,” which he says will “improve services and increase economic activity in the area.” 30th Street Station is the first place many Democratic delegates will see when they arrive in the city.
Of the potential candidates that will emerge from the convention, ward leader Vazquez offered an early assessment: “The last time (in 2008) I was with Hillary and if she runs again, most likely I’ll be with the Clintons again. You got to say they’re good, and when something is good, it’s good.”
“Like the Bushes were different,” continued Mr. Vazquez. “Bush the father was OK. But Bush the son, now that was a different story. So it is what it is. You gotta give the dues to whoever it belongs to.”
Of a possible Latino Vice President, Mr. Vazquez said, “I’d like to see Chicago’s Luis Gutierrez. I think he would be a good Vice President.”