Councilmember Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez is a veteran activist with over 30 years of service to the City of Philadelphia, currently serving a third four-year term on Philadelphia City Council. Maria has advocated tirelessly for creating and preserving family-sustaining jobs, investing in a trained and educated workforce, reducing blight and transforming vacant land, keeping families in their homes, mandating ethics and transparency in government, revitalizing neighborhood economies, reforming unsafe demolition practices, and securing the rights of women, families, and workers across the City.
Maria made history in November of 2007 when she rallied grassroots support and nearly 80% of the vote towards becoming the first Latina elected to a district seat in City Council. Maria quickly became a rising star for her hard work and commitment to government reform. Her “Freshman 15” reforms, with colleagues Bill Green and Curtis Jones, Jr., improved transparency, modernized our municipal government, and saved the City over $60 million annually. In 2008, Maria was named “Best of Philly” new Councilperson and among the City’s future women leaders to watch by the Philadelphia Daily News. In 2009, Philadelphia Magazine named Maria one of the “Most Influential 50” in the City of Philadelphia.
During her most recent term, Maria’s legislative achievements included the historic creation of a Philadelphia Land Bank, which vests strategic neighborhood revitalization in a single, transparent agency that empowers residents, small businesses, community groups, non-profits, and developers across the City to transform and re-purpose vacant and blighted land. Maria also led historic business tax reform to make Philadelphia’s manufacturing industry competitive again in the global marketplace by reducing tax liability for local businesses by nearly 50%, while ensuring that companies headquartered outside the City pay their fair share. Maria fought to keep Philadelphians in their homes by passing tax foreclosure reform, AVI assistance for vulnerable homeowners, a Longtime Owner-Occupant Program (LOOP), a strong Homestead exemption, and a property tax deferral program. Maria passed landmark water affordability legislation to ensure that all Philadelphians can access clean and affordable running water, by tethering repayment to ability to pay. And Maria fought tirelessly for demolition reform, introducing thorough legislation that requires demolition projects submit and abide by a comprehensive safety plan. In recognition of Maria’s expertise, Mayor Nutter appointed her to serve on a Special Investigating Committee on Demolitions Practices, a Blue Ribbon Commission of national experts on demolition and building safety standards, and the Police Oversight Committee.
Maria currently serves City Council as Chair of the Committees of Appropriations; Chair of the Committee on Licenses and Inspections; Vice Chair of the Committee on Streets and Services; and Vice Chair of the Committee on Public Health and Human Services. Maria also serves as a member of the following committees: Rules; Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs; Education; Labor and Civil Service; and Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless.
Prior to serving on City Council, Maria served as the Regional Director for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), serving Pennsylvania and Delaware. At PRFAA, Maria mounted a historic, seven-city voter registration and Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) campaign registering over 32,000 new voters and produced an estimated increase of 35% of the Latino turnout in the campaign’s targeted areas.
Maria is a founding member of the Pennsylvania Statewide Latino Coalition and served as its first Co-Chair of the Board of Directors. From June 1996 to June 2000, Maria served as the first female and youngest Executive Director of ASPIRA, the largest Latino educational institution in Pennsylvania. Maria’s accomplishments at ASPIRA included the creation of the first bilingual charter school in Pennsylvania (Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community Charter School), and the development of a multi-million dollar school and administrative office building in her neighborhood of Hunting Park.
From 1988 through 1996, Maria served in several city government positions including Deputy Commissioner of Elections and Legislative Assistant in City Council. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Women’s Campaign Fund, a statewide political action committee working to elect progressive women to the State Legislature.
Maria grew up in the Hunting Park section of the City and now resides in the eastern North Philadelphia neighborhood of Norris Square. She proudly represents both neighborhoods. Maria is married to Tomas Sanchez, JD. Maria and Tomas have two sons, Edgar and Tomasito, and are grandparents to Jace Antonio.