Adrian Rivera-Reyes, 26, could make history in Philadelphia’s city council race come May. The elections are already expected to see a big impact from young energized voters, but if things go well for Rivera-Reyes, he could become the first gay and only millennial councilman for the country’s sixth most populous city.
Rivera-Reyes, a Puerto Rico-born democratic socialist who is doing cancer research at the University of Pennsylvania while campaigning, knows he is not a traditional candidate. But because he saw a lack of representation, he decided to run. “Issues such as housing instability, job insecurity, an underfunded education system and toxic schools, and the opioid epidemic echo those of my own upbringing,” the cancer biologist told Philadelphia Magazine. “Our local government is not investing in and providing the opportunities necessary for working-class Philadelphians to succeed. I decided to switch to politics because people like me don’t have proper representation in City Council, and I will bring a public health and healthcare mentality when finding solutions for our problems.”
The local government, he said, is comprised of lawyers, career politicians, and others who don’t represent everyday people. But he hopes to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, the elderly, Latinos, and more.
The Penn grad and labor organizer hopes to run a radical campaign, citing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an inspiration. His campaign will focus on affordable housing, education, and jobs. While he only announced his bid for an at-large seat on the city council, he already knows that should he win, he’ll be representing communities missing from the conversation.
“Currently neither the LGBTQ+ community nor millennials have representation on City Council, which is evident from the policy outcomes from our current government,” he said. “These communities, which I am part of, deserve a seat at the table, as we represent the future. I will act as bullhorn to amplify our voices and be the warrior we want and deserve.”