NEW YORK — Pennsylvania Society isn’t exactly Kendra Brooks’ usual crowd.
But after an unprecedented victory as a Philadelphia City Council candidate for the progressive Working Families Party, Brooks, the ultimate outsider, decided it was time to see the ultimate insider event.
“It was strongly suggested and advised that I come, so I’m here,” Brooks said as she mingled at the annual gathering of Pennsylvania elected officials and political insiders in New York. “It’s important that I’m in rooms that the constituency that I represent aren’t. So it’s important that I get to know all of what makes up Philadelphia politics, so I’m here learning.”
A single mother from Nicetown who first dipped her toes into politics about five years ago as an education activist, Brooks found herself Friday night at a Midtown Manhattan cocktail party hosted by the law firm Cozen O’Connor.
Brooks did not RSVP to attend the event and was almost turned away at the door — as many others were at the crowded party — after failing to tell event staff that she was an elected official. An aide talked it over with the staff, and they were soon let in.
As waiters passed by toting hors d’oeuvre platters and topping off wine glasses, Brooks greeted a stream of glad-handers curious to meet the first Council member from outside the two major parties in more than a century.
“I’m an introvert," she said. “It’s a lot of people."
On the campaign trail, Brooks railed against the political influence wielded by big business interests — the same interests that dominate Pennsylvania Society. But, Brooks said, she sensed no antagonism from the people she met in New York.
“They haven’t even been pushy," Brooks said. “People are just saying, ‘Congratulations.’ And it’s been interesting. I didn’t know what to expect but people have mostly been very friendly. All I can do is be here, have a presence, make the best of it.”