Helen Gym's City Council campaign got early momentum from an endorsement from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. On Friday, it was bolstered by the effusive support of Randi Weingarten, the president of the national teachers' union.
"If we had more people like Helen in public office, we'd be solving more problems across the United States of America," Weingarten said, standing outside the Philadelphia School District headquarters. "I'm impressed by her passion, by her smarts, by her ability to problem solve."
Weingarten and District Attorney Seth Williams spoke at a late-morning rally for Gym, the longtime public-education activist. Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney stood behind Gym at the event, but did not speak.
Williams said that he was "going to vote for the right person. I'm here to endorse education."
Kendra Brooks, a Nicetown resident and district parent, fought alongside Gym to hold back the conversion of Steel Elementary to a charter school.
"We support Helen Gym because Helen Gym supports us," Brooks said. "We're going to support her all the way to City Hall."
But the rally was mostly about Weingarten's nod. The American Federation of Teachers president flew in from Los Angeles after traveling internationally, and was scheduled to appear at a Kenney event later in the day - the union has thrown its support and spending power behind Kenney, too.
Gym said she felt good going into the election.