Committee approves asking voters if career, technical school grads should get special preference for city jobs

Pat Loeb
February 05, 2020 - 4:26 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia City Council committee Wednesday approved a third ballot question for the April primary which would ask voters to approve giving graduates of the city's career and technical education programs extra points on the civil service exam. It proved to be more controversial than it might sound. 

Councilman David Oh announced before any testimony was given that he was voting against the bill because he thinks preferences for city jobs should be reserved for veterans and the children of fallen police and firefighters.

"That is a special preference because of the sacrifice they have made," Oh said. 

But a majority of the committee rejected the notion that expanding the preference would hurt those who have it now. 

Maria Quinones-Sanchez spoke as a graduate of a CTE school.

"This is about an 'and' and an 'and' and an 'and' and an 'and.' The recognition that there are specialized constituencies that bring different skills to the table. It's not an 'either/or,'" she said.

School district career education specialist Jonathan Jacobs testified the bill would level the field for underserved youth who graduate with in-demand skills in automotive, construction and other trades.

"I have seen firsthand many of our students being passed up or not being given opportunities due to not having established connections," Jacobs said.

And the bill's sponsor, Kathy Gilmore Richardson, says it would help the city find candidates for hard-to-fill jobs.

"(with) a skilled and diverse workforce ready to fill our city's needs on day one," she said.

The bill was one of five charter changes originally on the committee's agenda, but chair Cherelle Parker says there was a consensus that it was a bit much to ask voters in a presidential primary to study up on half a dozen ballot questions.

So if this passes the full council, along with two ballot questions the committee advanced on Monday, voters will face three questions in April's election.