A young cancer biologist could become the first openly gay man to take a seat on Philadelphia City Council.
Adrian Rivera-Reyes, 26, who will be running for an at-large seat, joins a growing crop of LGBTQ candidates seeking seats on City Council.
Other out candidates include Sherrie Cohen, lesbian daughter of the late Philadelphia Councilman David Cohen, and Deja Lynn Alvarez, a transgender woman. No LGBTQ person has ever held a seat on City Council.
Rivera-Reyes, a Democrat, said he is running because he sees a need to represent and address city issues.
“I decided I wasn’t seeing our local government doing the things that needed to be done. I saw people like me who had no representation in our government,” he said.
“What really, really drives me is everything I’ve done in my life,” he said, adding identifying needs or the lack of something in marginalized communities,” he continued.
The City Council candidate is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Rivera-Reyes graduated from the same school with his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology. He also graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, with a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology.
Rivera-Reyes is a co-founder of the Penn Science Policy and Diplomacy Group, in addition to being a member of Democratic Socialists of America and Reclaim Philadelphia.
His education on the development of cancer treatment is what brought Rivera-Reyes to Philly.
“Philly, to me, is my home. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, which is also my home, but here is where I see myself wanting to live the rest of my life,” said the candidate.
All 17 city council seats are up for election in 2019. City Council is comprised of 10 members elected by district and seven members elected at-large. The five Democratic at-large candidates receiving the most votes in the May 21 primary election will go on to the Nov. 5 general election.
According to Rivera-Reyes, there is a need to improve education and address issues in poverty.
“Policies are not benefiting people. The working class has no safety net and no opportunities are being rewarded or afforded by our local government. I remember what it was like to not be able to afford a home. I remember what it was like to not be able to afford health insurance and have to rely on the government,” the candidate said.
Rivera-Reyes also addressed the need to improve healthcare and education opportunities.
“I think that’s what we are missing right now. We are missing that investment in our people, in our city,” he said, calling the biggest issues an underfunded public school system, children’s resources and poverty.
Rivera-Reyes added that he wants to be a part of the work to make things better.
For more information on Rivera-Reyes campaign, visit www.rivera2019.com.