PA Candidate Introduces African American Advisory Council
by Bryan Carter
The African American Advisory Board
Main Course PHL had the chance to catch up with Otto Voit currently running for Pennsylvania state treasurer who began his race roughly a year and a half ago after quitting his day job. At 7165 (formerly known as South by South West and more recently Alma Mater), Otto Voit held a press event to unveil a number of initiatives – The Hope Initiative, Kids Without Connections and I Want to Live. Armed with the fire to build better communities, the Hope Initiative does just that: push hope in underrepresented communities, and capacities by connecting youth in those areas with organizations through internships and more.
Bryan Carter: Good afternoon, this is Bryan Carter and I’m here with Otto Voit who’s currently running for Treasurer of Pennsylvania. We’re also getting into his press conference today and some of the things he’s going to talk about. So, for those that don’t know you, please introduce yourself.
Otto Voit: Hello, I’m Otto Voit and I’m running to be your next PA State Treasurer. I started running a year and a half ago. I quit my full time job because I had a calling to go into public service. I started this campaign in prayer and in two weeks, I’m going to end it in prayer.
BC: Now, what is the press conference for and what are some of the things you will be addressing?
OV: I’m extremely pleased to announce the African American Advisory Committee made up of people throughout the entire state whether they’re from business, finance, faith, and education communities. The same group will be a part of the transition team and on my team once I’m in office to ensure the programs are meeting the needs of the communities we really want to make a difference in.
Teresa M. Lundy, Philadelphia County Communications Consultant for Otto Voit, PA State Treasurer
BC: Can you detail the initiatives you’re going to bring to light?
OV: It’s all wrapped around what we call the Hope Initiative. The first part of it is financial literacy. Throughout the entire state and communities, we’re going to work with organizations like OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center) who train people to have skills like the hospitality field along with financial literacy, having a checkbook, a saving account, paying rent vs buying, mortgages, saving for that rainy day or what I call the day of misfortune. When they start earning money, they’ll know what to do with it.
OV: The second part is creating an internship called, “Kids without Connections”. We’re going through neighborhoods in; Pittsburg, Harrisburg, Chester, and Philadelphia such as 8th and York. Kids are fighting everyday wanting to stay alive and seeking ways to find a way out. That’s when the hope initiative came. Without hope, there is no life and these kids don’t have many connections. Well, they’re going to have one now in the treasury. By working with the advisory council, kids who can make it out will have an internship in the treasury so they can learn about investments, credit, banking, accountability, and transparency our plan.
BC: I definitely agree with those initiatives. I believe that’s something many young people need here in the City, being able to get into those spaces and establish connections.
OV: I’ve been in many neighborhoods, on multiple occasions here in Philadelphia at 8th and York. We’ve been able to make a difference with community advocates. Bringing attention to neighborhoods where there is no attention and unfortunately, where there’s so much violence & kids end up in caskets. The idea is to have a program called, “I Want to Live” where it teaches the kids about respect and the will to live, providing hope, and opportunity. I’m looking forward to getting elected and truly making a difference in communities like this.
Otto Voit (interviewee), and Bryan Carter (interviewer)
BC: With the communities you’re speaking about, are they unspoken communities, underdeveloped communities and why specifically these communities you’re talking about?
OV: The answer is yes. I truly found my voice because in America, unless all communities are represented, then we have failed as a society. How can one community succeed while another community does not succeed and that’s because people are not paying attention to that area. It’s the idea to bring attention to these areas. We have to have hope, we have to have economic development in these communities. If the politicians that are working those areas are not shedding light, who’s going to bring opportunity to those areas? That’s what I want to do. That’s my passion – to grow Pennsylvania, but to focus in on those areas that are underserved, some with the highest crime rates in the state. We have to work together to solve this problem.
BC: I’m hearing the passion coming from everything you’re saying. This is a vital time for young people with the way they’re ending up in caskets from violence, and the necessity to take care of our future. That’s what we need to do.
Before we wrap things up, what do you want people to understand? What will people know you stand for, whether or not you’re elected as treasurer?
OV: One, that I’m a different candidate. I want to walk the walk. I want to earn everyone’s respect by doing. To work with everybody in these communities, having the advisory council and by firing Wall Street. I’m going to hire Pennsylvania investment advisors where 20% of them will be minority owned. Less than 1% invested by the state goes into minority communities. Also, there’s a problem with minority owned companies getting bonding, something you have to do to get state contracts. By standing together today, there’s no doubt we can make a difference.
Mr. and Mrs. Stark with Otto Voit
BC: My final question: with all the conversations around race, how has that affected your race to become treasurer and have you encountered some type of difficulty articulating your language, your message across different people?
OV: Good question. I don’t think I’ve had difficulty because I think we all stand together and those that truly want to make a difference, regardless of ethnicity or background, are coming together to solve every problem, but by God, we can come together and work hard to help our communities.
Thank you Otto Voit. This is Main Course PHL. Click here for our live interview.
Photos Credit: Main Course PHL