With the primary election over, Cheri Honkala officially kicked off her campaign for sheriff yesterday to a crowd of about 80 people in her campaign headquarters on Market Street yesterday.
“I’m so nervous!” says Honkala, 48. “It’s so real now!”
Honkala worked the room in a blue dress suit against the backdrop of poster-sized black-and-white photographs of her at street protests in T-shirts, hoodies and jeans, snapped over the last 20 years by photographer Harvey Finkle.
“I always believed in the two-party system,” begins campaign manager Jim Moran before introducing Honkala, who’s running on the Green Party ticket. “One party on Friday night, then another on Saturday night!” He adds that he believes both the Republican and Democratic parties are “fairly corrupt.”
Honkala speaks with gusto, hands flailing wild at points, seeming on the verge of tears. “There is no campaign as diverse as the campaign that is here today!” she shouts to whoops and claps. “We have people from all across Philadelphia, and at the base we have the people of Kensington!”
“We’re supposed to be the people who don’t care about politics … or our neighborhood … but we’re going to go out there every single day, hold the house parties, the keggers, get together at the bars … we’re going to involve everybody from every part of the city and we’re going to take our country back!”
The crowd erupts. Honkala, who has been arrested more than 200 times over the course of decades of activism, goes on to say that while her supporters may be dismissed—for having been homeless, or institutionalized or arrested—if banks and big corporations deserve a bail-out, so do poor families.
“[We’re] getting together and getting organized and ensuring that they can’t just steal $53 million from the Sheriff’s Department and no one can get pissed off about it … It’s robbery, they’re kicking people out of their homes and they’ve got to stop and it begins here tonight,” says Honkala, who’s running on the platform of no evictions.
“So you guys, for real, if you’re smoking and spending your money I need you to stop smoking. If you’re drinking one too many bottles of wine I need you to stop that, I need the money to go here. If you don’t have any money, if you’re currently homeless, whatever, I need you get up early every morning and channel that rage, because I need you to get 4,000 signatures to get my name on the ballot.”
Next, Honkala introduced Rich Antipuna, Kensington activist, host of Woodshop Films’ “Kenzo News” and “Kenzo Pride” movement leader, who announced his run on the Green Party ticket for City Commissioner.
“I’m transgender and being homeless is tough for anyone, but it is especially tough for the LGBTQ community,” says Jordan Gwendolyn Davis, a 26-year-old activist-blogger who was one of the supporters in attendance. Davis says she will volunteer to connect Honkala’s campaign with her community.
“You need someone to speak to the poor and oppressed,” says Tom Paine Cronin, well-known in town as a progressive labor leader and retired AFSCME District Council 47 president. “It’s clear to me that the two parties as parties aren’t meeting the needs of people.”