PUBLIC SAFETY is the most important issue facing our city. People won't want to live, invest or shop in Philadelphia if they don't feel safe.

Others speak only of increasing law enforcement. But I believe we need to work on many fronts - focusing on law enforcement in the short term and on education/economic development in the long term.

In the short term, I support the hiring of more police officers, focused on getting guns off the streets. Building community development/police partnerships that will help address specific issues affecting the community must also be part of the equation. Other shorter-term approaches I support include the increased use of security cameras tied to a quick police response in problem areas.

Opportunities for improvement in public safety should include pedestrian lighting in neighborhood commercial corridors like in Center City. If it's good for Center City, it should be good enough for the neighborhoods. We should also leverage additional resources from the state and federal governments for anti-crime efforts.

But I believe we must seriously address the roots of the crime problem - poor education and lack of economic opportunity - to eradicate it.

A majority of those committing crime in our city and many of the victims are dropouts and unemployed. As the son of a retired public school teacher and parent of two children in city public schools, I know our schools must be improved to engage students with a curriculum that prepares them to compete successfully in this economy. Vocational technology and home economic courses like culinary arts, tailoring, interior design, carpentry, automotives, printing and graphic design must be reinstated.

And we must create an environment that will attract jobs and new businesses to our neighborhoods - when people are gainfully employed, crime decreases. We must think out of the box when looking for solutions to our problems.

Andrew Toy

City Council at-large candidate