Gay Groups Back Katz
Coalition Giving Unusual Support to a GOP Hopeful
A coalition of gay and lesbian groups, led by the Pride of Philadelphia Election Committee [POPEC], has endorsed Republican Sam Katz for mayor.
Mark Segal, POPEC president and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, said the endorsement came "because Mr. Katz has taken the time to learn what problems the gay community faces."
Democrat John Street, said Segal, is "still in the learning process after 19 years of being in city government."
The other groups represented in the coalition were the Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA), the Log Cabin Republicans and Gays and Lesbians for Katz.
Segal said the endorsement means that POPEC's computerized list of 15,000 voters will be made available to Katz. In addition, he said, those voters will be contacted by phone and mail by the coalition and urged to vote for Katz, whose brother, James, died of AIDS in 1994.
"It's the first time in history that the gay and lesbian community is collectively supporting a Republican candidate for mayor," said Michael Williams, chairman of Gays and lesbians for Katz.
Another gay group, Liberty City Democratic Club, voted against endorsing any mayoral candidate. Its charter prohibits it from supporting Republicans.
In accepting the endorsement at his headquarters, Katz promised to work to widen protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and to have an administration that includes gays and lesbians.
Katz also criticized Street for conducting what he said was a negative campaign that "will boomerang." He described as "scurrilous" a mailing by the Democratic State Committee that says Katz's policies would "destroy" city finances and "wreck" the public schools.
"There isn't a positive message coming out of John Street's mouth," Katz said. "The negative campaign that is going on now is unprecedented."
Last night, Katz told an audience in the Fox Chase Elementary School that the city schools "need money, but they also need to be fixed."
If there were any doubts of that, Katz said: "The [Daily News] stories about people not getting paid because of computer glitches dispelled that.
"I will be the leader of the school system – unlike mayors of the past."
He addressed the controversy over Section 8 housing by saying problems are caused by clustering tenants on entire blocks, bad landlords, and bad tenants that are not taught "by PHA" how to be good citizens and neighbors.
"As soon as I am elected, I will ask [Philadelphia Housing Authority executive director Carl] Greene to sit down with myself and Councilman Jim Kenny, who has come up with a plan to reform Section 8, and try to resolve the problem."