Hunting Park's House of Cards
There was an unusual scene at Taller Puertoriqqueño back in late November. A group of North Philadelphia politicos huddled together in a cramped room to rally behind debt-crushed Puerto Rico. They were announcing a joint visit to Congress where they would lobby for the U.S. territory to restructure its debt. That much made sense. What made less sense were three of the supposed allies sharing that stage — 7th District Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and State Reps. Angel Cruz and Leslie Acosta.
The councilwoman and Cruz are well-known adversaries, their feud both political and personal. Accusations and insults fly between them both on and off the record. The root of their conflict would take thousands of words to unpack, so for now, suffice it to say that something benign as sharing a stage in their overlapping districts could end in heated exchange. Add Acosta into the mix and it gets even more complicated.
Cruz, Acosta and Quiñones-Sánchez share a political party (Democrat), a heritage (Puerto Rican), a hometown (the Latino-majority neighborhoods of North Philadelphia) and a grave number of problems in their districts (deep poverty, unemployment and crime, to name a few). And for the last eight years, they’ve been trying to keep each other out of elected office.
This year, Cruz and Acosta are up for reelection in the PA House of Representatives race.
If Quiñones-Sánchez backs other candidates against them as she has in the past, it would mean that their feud carries into another term — at the expense of their constituents, critics add. But if the three make amends, we might see something like unity among the city’s highest ranking Latino legislators for the first time in recent memory.