Vishal Bajpai for City Council

Vishal Bajpai for City Council

Vishal Bajpai for City Council

A City for All of Us

Vishal Bajpai For Harrisburg City Council

Did your needs get met by the latest City budget? Does the City’s spending make your life easier? How much say do you have over City decisions, processes, or actions? Vishal thinks that the City budget should serve you, that the City’s spending should be designed around your life, and that you should have direct input into City decisions, processes, and actions. Vishal has been working with Harrisburg residents from diverse backgrounds to fight for resident needs and priorities in the City. Informed by this work, his platform is designed to increase resident participation and provide needed City support where it is currently lacking.

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    Issues

    Tenants Bill of Rights

    It is common now to hear politicians say they believe housing is a human right. But our government and our economy do not protect it like one.

    Right now, during a pandemic, tenants are still being evicted, are confused by conflicting federal orders, and have little to no protections against landlords. A Tenants Bill of Rights can ensure that tenants have strong protections enshrined in city ordinances. 

    Vishal wants to give people extra protections against evictions, provide eviction assistance, and expand safety requirements in the city building code.

    • Provide city funded representation at eviction proceedings. 
    • Create a land fund for Harrisburg residents. 
    • Protect tenants by requiring Just Cause Evictions. 
    • Make Codes and Codes Enforcement work to protect tenants. 
    • Require regular lead inspections on all properties.
    • Enforce discrimination protections aggressively.

    Worker Protections 

    Workers create everything we need and everything we enjoy. The city government urgently needs to take responsibility for protecting the rights and interests of workers.

    Over and over during the pandemic corporations and politicians have called workers “heroes” in an attempt to let that public praise replace protections for workers’ safety and the guarantee of a living wage. We need to ensure that essential workers aren’t treated like sacrificial workers. 

    Vishal will provide real benefits to people by raising the minimum wage and mandating paid sick leave for workers in the city.

    • Mandate paid sick leave for all employers.
    • Enforce discrimination protections aggressively.

    People’s Budget (more revenue & public spending)

    Budgets are moral documents. The budget is a public statement of what the city cares about. What is and is not in the city budget has a vast impact on residents’ lives.

    People have much more stake in the outcomes created by the budget than the level of public participation in the budget process lets on. This is the city’s problem, not city residents’ problem. It is our responsibility not just to make participation possible but to actively encourage it.

    Vishal will put in the effort necessary to create a truly participatory budget-writing process. Once city residents have had an actual chance to determine what the public’s needs and priorities are, we will realign our spending to make those things a reality.

    • Make big businesses pay a higher rate on the business-privilege tax; currently, smaller businesses pay a higher rate. 
    • Require landlords that do not accept Section 8 housing vouchers to pay the business-privilege tax.
    • Fund more summer enrichment programs for children.
    • Invest in municipal internet infrastructure so that everyone in Harrisburg has access to high speed internet. 
    • Open up the budget crafting process.

    Real Investments in Public Safety

    Despite raising policing budgets, Harrisburg hasn’t seen improved public safety. We clearly need a new approach. We can reduce the funding for the police and invest public money in effective and humane public safety measures.

    Many functions currently assigned to police do not need to be carried out by patrol officers. We will reassign these roles to other agencies in order to reduce residents’ contact with patrol officers.

    • Decriminalize drug use and sex work. This means that the city will not impose criminal penalties for these activities, but it also means decriminalizing the people who engage in those behaviors.
    • Reduce the number of patrol officers called for in the budget and invest the money saved in mental health and housing services, including codes enforcement and direct aid to houseless people.
    • Fund counselors, nurses, and career coaches at Harrisburg public schools, not police officers (SROs).

    A City that Cares

    In Pennsylvania, third-class cities like Harrisburg do not have all the tools they should have in their toolkit to meet the needs of their residents. This is not just because of a lack of imagination on the part of local officials: in large part it’s because of the way state legislation restricts local authorities.

    As long as we frame this as an insurmountable problem, it will remain a reason not to protect your rights or serve your needs. Instead, we need to think of it as a problem we’re going to solve & a fight we’re going to win by working together. In order to build a City that Cares for all of its residents, we need change at the state and county level. 

    Vishal is dedicated to pushing for ambitious changes to county and state policies that will empower the city to stand by its residents. He will always look for a way to get done what needs to be done and never look for an excuse not to.

    • Vishal is committed to using his seat in City Council to build coalitions with other City Councils in Pennsylvania to lobby the State and County more effectively.
    • While we are still working within the current framework, Vishal is going to consider and propose every creative solution that is practical to build a City that Cares.
    • Use City Council non-binding resolutions to pressure county and state decision makers.
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