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Cheri Honkala: Another Philadelphia is coming

Tribuno Del Pueblo  |  Issue: March 2017
Cheri Honkala

Philadelphia’s Cheri Honkala is running to represent the 197th District in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives. She is campaigning on the Green Party ticket in a special election to be the voice of the dispossessed in that community.

 

The city of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are being afforded a special opportunity on March 21t to step out of politics as usual.

Fraud has become the common practice of the 197th District’s representatives. Leslie Acosta, the former state representative, resigned on January 3, having secretly pleaded guilty to money laundering. Acosta’s resignation triggered a special election to replace her.

Ironically, she earned her seat during a special election when the previous representative, J.P. Miranda, pleaded guilty to having a “ghost employee” on payroll.

This time can be different. Finally, someone new is being offered to this struggling district.

Meet Cheri Honkala, the Green Party candidate, a decades-long activist who has advocated for the rights of the individuals in her district throughout the city and across the nation. Once a homeless, single mother herself, she reminds friends, allies, and neighbors that poverty is shameful – but not for those who suffer hunger and are homeless.

The shame, she argues, is on the systems and the officials who perpetuate it. Cheri has shown up on the steps of countless individuals facing eviction to fight with them for their right to a home. Repeatedly, while protesting cuts to public assistance and Medicare, she was forcibly removed from the state house floor alongside the late David P. Richardson and one of her “sheroes,” Roxanne Jones – both highly regarded elected officials still celebrated in their districts.

Cheri intends to give Philadelphia that kind of champion again in Harrisburg, the state capital. Upon winning, she will start by advocating for the comprehensive, single-payer “Healthcare for All PA” legislation currently being introduced to the state Senate, and rallying against SB10 – a bill that threatens the sanctuary status of Pennsylvania cities.

Pledging that no one will be deported from her district without a fight, her office will serve as a sanctuary even if the city loses its sanctuary status. Cheri is eager to leverage power as a state legislator to stand with those against fracking and pipelines such as the Keystone XL.

And even if some people have to sleep in her office, she is committed to ensuring everyone in her district has a home. She will fight for a Commonwealth where every child has access to quality education, where LGBTQ rights are respected, where people with disabilities are cared for with deference and dignity and where workers are paid a living wage.

She also means to dismantle private prisons and the war on drugs while supporting legalization of marijuana. She exclaims that “another Philadelphia is coming” and asserts that addressing the dire needs of the 197th District is an ideal way to usher in this other, better Philadelphia for everyone. Cheri believes, as her campaign says, that “We Are the 197th.”

Learn more about Cheri Honkala at cheri197.com.

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