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Candidate Profile: Malcolm Kenyatta

Malcolm Kenyatta said that the primary staple of his platform is what he calls "America's Basic Bargain," which he explained is a person's ability to be financially stable on one good job, their children can go to a good school, they can go to see a doctor if they get sick (and afford prescribed medication), and can retire with a level of dignity.

Alisher Aminov

Candidate for United States Senate

Candidate Profiles allow candidates to speak directly to their constituency and answer questions specifically related to the offices they are running for. All candidates listed on Lebanon County ballots have been contacted for an interview.

Malcolm Kenyatta is a candidate running for United States Senate to replace outgoing Senator Pat Toomey. I will break this article into two parts: 1) background information and 2) his candidacy for United States Senate. 

Background information:

Malcolm Kenyatta was born in North Philadelphia and grew up in a poor working family. His parents were both public servants; his dad was a social worker, and his mom was a home healthcare aid.

Kenyatta has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Strategic Communication from Temple and a Master of Science in Public Communication from Drexel. In addition, he has completed a program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government as a David Bohnett Fellow at Harvard. 

Kenyatta describes his upbringing as challenging. He said his parents (who have since passed away) split when he was young, and by the time he graduated from high school, he had moved to six different homes. 

When describing his early experiences in activism and community affairs, Kenyatta said he decided to run to serve as junior block captain with the Philadelphia Streets program when he was 11 years old after noticing trash piling up in his neighborhood.

He said his mom told him, “‘ Boy if you care so much, why don’t you do something about it. So I decided to run for junior block captain, and it was the first time I had done anything civically.” 

Kenyatta said, leading up to his initial run for Pennsylvania State Representative for the 181st District in 2018, he had held multiple jobs, including in the food service industry. In addition, he ran a campaign for now elected Philadelphia Councilwoman Sherrie Cohen, worked in the Hahnemann Hospital Graduate Medical Department, and helped lead diversity and inclusion initiatives for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. 

When asked why he initially chose to run for public office, Kenyatta said he decided to run for State Representative for the same reasons that compelled him to run for junior block captain when he was younger. Kenyatta believes we “need more than just another politician who promises to speak for working people when they get in the room. We need to elect working people.” He said he became sick of complaining about things and decided he needed to become involved. 

Malcolm Kenyatta said the accomplishment he is most proud of as P.A. State Representative is his work to prevent Republicans from overturning the 2020 election. He said that after the election, the Election Integrity Committee tried to start Arizona-style audits, and he was able to stop that committee from trying to contest the P.A. election. 

Currently, Malcolm Kenyatta sits on the Liquor Control Committee, the Commerce Committee, the Finance Committee, and the State Government Committee in the P.A. House of Representatives. 

Candidacy for United States Senate: 

Malcolm Kenyatta said that the primary staple of his platform is what he calls “America’s Basic Bargain,” which he explained is a person’s ability to be financially stable on one good job, their children can go to a good school, they can go to see a doctor if they get sick (and afford prescribed medication), and can retire with a level of dignity.

When asked what three legislative issues are critical to his campaign, Kenyatta said:

  1. He believes Congress should pass the “Pro Act” which he says would make it easier for people to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace.
  2. He believes Congress should raise the minimum wage and invest more in the Small Business Administration (SBA).
  3. Congress should pass legislation to invest in education, including support for childcare costs and lowering college costs. 

Malcolm Kenyatta said, if he could accomplish just one thing in the U.S. Senate, he would pass a bill that he is currently working to pass in the P.A. State Legislature called “Phillips Law.” 

He said, we wrote Phillip’s Law after an 11-year-old boy named Phillip died in his district after committing suicide. If passed, the bill would “re-imagine how we provide mental health care to our kids.” 

Kenyatta said that the fact that so many kids are currently struggling with thoughts of suicide and depression or have committed suicide is heartbreaking. He said that he proposed the bill to then-Vice President Joe Biden, who later included it in his platform for his Presidential campaign.

When asked what he would focus his first term on if elected, Kenyatta said he would prioritize the four things he listed in his “American Basic Bargain.” 

Malcolm Kenyatta said he believes that the proceedings of the U.S. Senate Chamber are currently “fundamentally broken from a process standpoint.” He said he believes that the first step the U.S. Senate needs to take to get back on track would be to abolish the filibuster.

Kenyatta said, if he could pass one piece of legislation through the U.S. Senate immediately, he would likely pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (Pro Act). 

Kenyatta believes that when people can organize and collectively bargain, they get better benefits and better pay. But, he said people working in the service industry do not currently have the protection or support of the union, which concerns him. 

When asked how he would work with his Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate if elected, Kenyatta said that while he would not “join anybody on fantasy island” and work with people who avoid facts and partake in misinformation, he would be the first one to meet people on the “dock of reality.” He said that he is willing to work with anyone regardless of party affiliation so long as they are willing to work with the facts and operate within the realm of reality.

When asked what he would like to say directly to his constituents, Malcolm Kenyatta said he would like to ask them, “Who do you trust to go to Washington and stand up for you? Do you trust the working-poor guy from Philadelphia who understands your life, or do you trust yet another politician trying to earn your vote?”

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