by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
The ballroom of Treasures on Germantown Avenue was packed to capacity last Saturday morning, despite the fact that the temperature was a vicious 16 degrees with vicious whipping winds. The Germantown/Mt. Airy community turned out to celebrate the re-election of State Representative Stephen Kinsey, who is now serving his second term representing the 201stdistrict in Philadelphia.
Residents of all ages and economic backgrounds showed up to congratulate him and let him know how pleased they were with who he was and how he was representing them.
The opening ceremony with a color guard from the Boy Scouts and another local youth organization was followed by a musical rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing performed by Darryl McKeever on sax.
Kinsey’s adorable little daughter, Myla Rose Pearl Kinsey, dressed in white blush, greeted the audience and welcomed them to her dad’s inauguration.
There was an overwhelming sense of family as you looked around the capacity-packed room. People spoke with pride about the difference Kinsey has made since being in Harrisburg. John Odom spoke of his outstanding character, stating, “What stood out was a man who treated everybody on the same plane. I am grateful to know him at this stage of my life. Hope to see you running for president,” he concluded.
John Myers, his predecessor, stated that Kinsey had come up under his leadership. Myers shared his wisdom knowledge and was determined to make sure he was able to carry on the work of David Richardson (one of Kinsey’s icons).
Per Myers, “Steve Kinsey is like a political son to me. I had said to Steve in five years we could make you a leader in Harrisburg. He said ‘no way!’ He later had to turn down leadership positions people wanted him to take. Steve is a soldier for his people. He knows what is right and when it’s right; what to say and when to say it. I want to make you the 800 pound gorilla. We need an 800 pound gorilla in this city!” Myers went on to say that Kinsey needed an army to become the 800 pound gorilla. And that army was made up of community constituents who can help out by making phone calls, sending emails and letters and standing with him on the issues.
“I want you to pledge to be that army,” he continued. Per Myers Kinsey must have the people behind him willing to do the work necessary.
Stating a fact in political math, Myers reminded the audience that a 1500 voter turnout for the most part will get little to no attention; but when you have 15,000 voters turning out it makes everybody sit up and take notice. “If we want to see changes made, it continues after he gets in office. If you look in the mirror and see someone other than yourself looking back, you need to change the mirror.”
Spoken word artist, Kirwyn Sutherland’s brilliant piece, which started with – “Generation B has wide wings…there is no stolen history ritalin can reconstruct – and culminated with “you are not alone, every single one of us have gravely sinned – we invite every part of you in,” lent a contemporary basis to the high regard the so called generation ‘z’ have for the Representative, who has broad personal appeal across the age and economic ranges.
The inauguration was as much a lesson in civics and politics as it was the celebration of the re-election of Stephen Kinsey. With many of the who’s who in the the Pennsylvania political arena.
State Representative Cherelle Parker stated enthusiastically, “This is my tenth year. And it took people like John Myers, Dwight Evans, John White, Jr., Dave Richardson – all of those people who sort of laid the foundation – to give people like Steve Kinsey and Cherrelle Parker the opportunity to do what we do. And to do what we do in a way that is so selfless, that when we get there – you know when you get elected, people begin to call you, address you as ‘honorable.’ And if you’re not careful, if you’re not grounded, if you don’t come from a place where you realize that if it wasn’t for the Grace of God, that could be me – you could lose yourself in what we do. And you can get to Harrisburg and you could forget Germantown. Right? You’re walking the halls and people say, ‘Oh I want to meet with you!’ ‘Oh, I want to talk to you!’ And all of a sudden, you just get grand! And don’t start reading you press releases – you start reading your press releases and believing it; your picture in the paper – and if you are not careful and disciplined – you get so busy you forget the purpose. He sits next to me; he hasn’t forgotten purpose! John Myers, you know it’s easy to talk about what you believe in in front of this crowd, because you’re home. They feel what you’re feeling, and believe what you believe! But when you go to Harrisburg, and you get inside that conference room, when you get on that floor, where there are 203 members and only 25 of us from Philadelphia, and we do not always agree. But I’m impressed with Kinsey, because when he got to Harrisburg he didn’t mind speaking out, especially when people came from different places. You can sit there and be quiet and try to make people like you – but you’ll never get anything done. You can speak up about your concerns – school closings; economic dollars that once helped to stabilize schools – you can say it or you can be quiet and be afraid to speak up,” she stated, wanting to make it emphatically clear that role Kinsey plays in Harrisburg.
Parker spoke of how rare it was to be a part of the appropriations committee so early in his political career, and how thorough and fair Kinsey was in his determinations; playing a key role in the effort to ensure that Germantown has its fair and equitable share.
With a flair of humor, Rep. Parker stated that she would “like to be fly on wall of the appropriations committee when Rep. Kinsey was putting forth his concerns for he budget and its impact on the whole of Philadelphia.” She stated, “You have made a good choice – to succeed Dave Richardson you sent John Myers. And to succeed John Myers you sent Stephen Kinsey and my friend represents you well.”
City Councilwoman Cindy Bass rounded out the accolades by stating that there has never been a time since Kinsey took office that she has called and not received the help she needed from him. There has never been a time when he was unavailable to the constituents she represents in his district.
“I can’t do the things I try to do in the City Council without Steve’s help. If you’re trying to get bills passed in the city, you need government in the state. You need people who are really able to do the work. Who are well qualified, but also has the heart about the work that needs to be done,” she emphasized. “He will always be a part of my team, and I will always be a part of his team!”
Kinsey’s focus has been education, economic empowerment and building a cohesive community. Prior to the inauguration he hosted an open house in his new office at 5952 -54 Germantown Avenue (Corner Harvey) directly across the street from the now shuttered Germantown High School, his alma mater. Kinsey has been supportive of the GCCS – a consortium of community organizations and residents who are working to have the school transformed into a viable sixth through twelfth grade charter school. It was the only high school in Germantown and would have celebrated its 100th Anniversary had it not been shut down in 2013.
Among the guests and well wishers in the audience for Kinsey’s second inauguration, were members of Kappa Alpha Psi’s Philadelphia Alumnae chapter, members of the Germantown Community Charter School Coalition, and other community based organizations from the Germantown area. Suffice it to say that those in the 201st district fortunate enough to have Kinsey for their state representative have nothing but praise for his first two years and are looking to working with him in making sure that the 2nd term is as successful as the first.