River Wards Republican tosses hat in the ring

Port Richmond native and longtime Bridesburg resident Patty-Pat Kozlowski announces run for seat in 177th Legislative District, State Rep. John Taylor gives endorsement

Patty-Pat Kozlowski speaks to the crowd during the kick-off event for her campaign. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

While most of Philadelphia may have celebrated the world champion Philadelphia Eagles on Broad Street much of Thursday morning and afternoon, in Port Richmond, the night belonged to could-be champion Patty-Pat Kozlowski.

The Port Richmond native and longtime Bridesburg resident formally announced she will run as a Republican for the 177th Legislative District seat.

Kozlowski kicked off her campaign with some classic Port Richmond hospitality: Czerw’s Kielbasa and Stock’s pound cake.

But, that wasn’t the only thing on the menu.

Kozlowski spent three days cooking up her parents’ recipes for roast pork and kraut.

Wine and beer flowed freely and for free.

A live band and Americana-clad hula-hooper provided entertainment, and attendees had a chance of winning several raffles, including a Coach bag and 50-inch TV.

And while the atmosphere was festive, Kozlowski reminded her supporters that the road ahead was not all fun and games.

For 34 years, the position has been held by GOP Rep. John Taylor, who announced in September he would not seek another two-year term.

Taylor introduced Kozlowski to a standing room-only crowd at Saint George Parish Hall, where she and her father’s family attended school, officially giving her his endorsement.

State Rep. John Taylor gives Patty-Pat Kozlowski his endorsement. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

“Tonight is a great night for our neighborhood and a great night for a future,” Taylor said. “It’s time to pass the torch to someone else who can follow what we started and to make our community the №1 priority. And, we have in Patty-Pat someone who has devoted her entire adult life to a commitment to community service, whether it’s through her service work, or whether it’s through her work with elected officials. I think we have a candidate in Patty-Pat who has more experience in helping people than every other candidate who’s announced combined. I think we have the exact right person, at the exact right time.”

Kozlowski attended her first PROP, Port Richmond on Patrol, meeting when she was 18, and helped turn it into the current civic, PROPAC, Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic, which has existed for 30 years.

She served as the president of the civic until she moved to Bridesburg, the by-laws requiring the president to live in Port Richmond.

In addition to her involvement as a community activist, Kozlowski was formerly a top aide to late Councilwoman Joan Krajewski.

Most recently, she worked as director of park stewardship at the city Department of Parks and Recreation, a position that she vacated on Friday, Feb. 2, to run for office.

Taylor asked the crowd to “raise a little hell like you did today,” referencing the Eagles parade, as he introduced Kozlowski.

Kozlowski commenced her speech thanking Taylor for his years of service and endorsement and paraphrased a proverb.

“As I look out in the crowd tonight, I think about that quote, ‘Show me a person’s friends, and I’ll show you that person,’ and, I’m looking out at the crowd tonight at all the neighborhoods [represented], and if you look at my friends, you’ll see me,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, or if you live in Port Richmond or Bridesburg. Ladies and gentlemen, you are my friends, and I am that person.”

Kozlowski joked she had “dual-citizenship” because she “was born and raised in Port Richmond and bought a summer home on the island in Bridesburg.”

She also talked about growing up on the 3600 block of E. Thompson Street and how the neighbors took care of her parents when they were sick this summer.

“[The neighbors] all took care of my mom and dad. They dropped off food. They made sure they got up in the morning and you don’t find that anywhere anymore except in places like Port Richmond,” she said. “That’s what it’s about. Just like you took care of my mom and dad, I’m going to take care of you.”

Currently, Kozlowski is the only Republican to announce her candidacy, but a full house is running in the Democratic party in the upcoming May primary.

Joe Hohenstein, an immigration lawyer; Maggie Borski, a law student and daughter of former congressman Bob Borski; union plasterer Sean Kilkenny; community activist Dan Martino; former City Council aide Sean K. McMonagle; and Sean Patrick Wayland, who served eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and spent time in Iraq in 2008, are those who have officially announced they will seek the Democratic nomination.

During her speech, Kozlowski stressed the election is more about people than it is party affiliation.

“This race is not about that party, it’s about the person,” she said. “You are here tonight not because you’re a ‘D,’ an ‘R,’ not because you live in Bridesburg or Tacony or Wissinoming, Juniata, Port Richmond or Flatiron, you’re here because you’re my friend.”

Kozlowski wrapped up her speech laying out the top two platforms of her campaign: the opioid epidemic and development in the River Wards

“I was on a see-saw of whether I was going to leave my job with Parks and Rec that I loved,” she said, “I know we have an opioid epidemic and for three summers I ran the day camp at McPherson Square and you know what they call McPherson Square. So, I saw it, I was there at ground zero. And, what finally pushed me over the edge was when the City of Philadelphia agreed to look into opening up a safe injection site. Doing this will kill our quality of life.”

Kozlowski is firmly against opening a safe injection site in the city, stating the city would open such a site “over my dead body, the hell you are.”

Regarding development, Kozlowski referenced developers who present at civic meetings telling residents the neighborhoods “are up and coming,” to which her reply was, “We were never down and out.”

“We have to remember the people who have lived in the rowhouses. The row house Republicans, the row house Democrats, the row house neighborhoods of the River Wards,” she said. “So, those are the two things I’m going to fight for you on.”