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Brian Sims Talks Local Politics

Chris Balbi

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Bowtie Boy has been trekking around philly for 3 years. He enjoys theatre, beer gardens and intellectual conversations that lead nowhere. When he's not free-lancing his social media management and digital marketing strategies, he's at home in his underwear watching Dr. Who and eating Reese's puffs.
posted by Chris Balbi on Oct 31, 2016 10:30am | comments


Phone interviews are tough, especially phone interviews with Brian Sims, he is quite the speed talker.  Fortunately you can listen to the uncut / uncensored interview here .  If you’re more of a reader, the folks over at transcribed it for us below.  In the interview BSims talks about Yunegling, Voting for people other than the presidential candidate, Voting Third Party, and eating in Philly!


Chris: Let's get relevant, Let’s talk Yuengling, Crazy Right?  
Brian Sims: Oh yeah, absolutely. I think most of us learned yesterday, for the very first time, that the Yuengling corporation and Dick Yuengling, the owner, are supporting Donald Trump in this election. Now, a lot of people, a lot of my colleagues, a lot of Pennsylvanians, have known for years that Yuengling was anti-union…but we just learned for the very first time that they're putting their money behind a candidate that outwardly opposes so much of the values that those of us, especially in Philadelphia, or especially in the gay-borhood, support.Yuengling is one of the most prevalent brands in the neighborhood and we're learning that pink dollars that we send to that company are being used to support somebody that doesn't respect our relationships or our families, that believes that our children should be subject to child abuse, in the form of conversion therapy, and that thinks that the women in our lives are objects to be touched without their permission.
Chris: Just to clarify, and this more of an off the cuff question, if Yuengling had come out and said, "Hey, we're going to vote Trump," you'd be okay, but the fact that they're giving Trump money makes it a totally different story?  
Brian Sims: That is the issue here. Listen, I'm a civil rights attorney. Anybody that supports democracy has to support the idea that people are going to vote for people you don't like. They might even vote for them for reasons you don't like. That's perfectly fine. That is democracy at it's best and at it's worst. What I am talking about here, is I am talking about where our dollars are going to be spent, and who they're going to spent on. The Supreme Court and Republican Congress have said that corporations can now put their dollars behind ideology. If we're going to fund those corporations and they're going to spend those dollars in ways that hurt us, we deserve to take our dollars elsewhere.  
Chris: All right, so we're boycotting bars based on Yuengling, which now brings us back to racism in the gayborhood, and I know it's a very hot topic now.  
Brian Sims: We're not boycotting bars at all, we’re boycotting the beer itself.  If you’re looking to “hurt” a company, not purchasing their product will cause them bottom line financiall trouble.  What I would hope is that bars will examine their customer base and decide if they are making the right decision for them about selling a product where some of those dollars are going to hurt their own customers or, they themselves, their own values.
Chris: Let's talk voting. Aside from Hillary, Who else should I be looking for on the ticket, in your opinion?
Brian Sims: I think that one the things we have learned in the last eight years is that no matter how strong, no matter how smart, no matter how good our president, unless we are sending that person the team that will work with them, we're going to have dysfunctional government. We in Pennsylvania get to make one of the most important down ballot race decisions in the entire election and that's for the US Senate in Pennsylvania.   Pat Toomey, the current Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, is perhaps one of the candidates most damaged by Trump. That is because Pat Toomey has supported issues and some ideology in his time in office that are- I would consider Trump politics, and Trump ideology. He has a challenger right now named Katie Mcginty. She is the democratic nominee for the US Senate. She is the former Chief of Staff to Governor Wolf. She actually ran for governor herself. She is an amazing advocate for working class Pennsylvanians. I think that she has, right now, among the best upset chances in the United States, to take back a democratic seat in the US Senate, this senate seat and we need to elect Katie Mcginty over Pat Toomey, and we can do it.  
Chris: We finally have that power to do that, which is amazing.  
Brian Sims: It is amazing! Pat Toomey for a long time, we thought was a moderate republican, and yet over the last couple of years we have seen him consistently vote with the furthest right parts of his party in order to shut down the government. That's treason. That is textbook treason. We now have a chance to do something about it. Katie Mcginty was polling close and now she's polling ahead. It's a really exciting thing that we're seeing right now in national politics. It's our US Senate race.  
Chris: That's amazing. I'm going to ask, maybe an uneducated, question. This isn't an election that we are going to see your name on the ballot, is it?  
Brian Sims: It is. I am on the ballot for the 182nd District, the district that I represent in the general election. Because my district is overwhelmingly democratic, in the eightieth percentile, the primaries tend to be our tougher elections. I had a contested primary, but a republican is not running against me in this general election. So I will be on the ballot uncontested.  
Chris: That's awesome.  
Brian Sims: Thank you.  
Chris: You're making strides. I think we're having this interview via a car ride right now so you're keeping busy. What is a typical day for you like? Where are you? Are you always traveling? Do you ever spend time in the city?  
Brian Sims: The last couple of months have been different because we're heavily back in session. I'm in Harrisburg in the close of what is a two year session. Where I'm coming from right now was the final hours of what was a two year session. All the bills that we've introduced over the last couple of years either got a vote or did not. They've been heavy weeks. We've been doing battle with a Republican controlled legislature that is trying to push through all the worst of the republican agenda in these final days, and weeks, and months of this term.  We have a very busy district office in Philadelphia. It's one of things that I am proudest of. I am in Philadelphia quite a bit, especially lately as we're pushing through and making strides in the national election. Apartment that, 12th and Locust, and every time somebody runs into me and says the pie is good. I live right here. It's the best thing about representing my district. It is one of the smallest in the entire state. I eat out a lot. I get to be out and about in the district all the time when I'm not in Harrisburg.  
Chris: This is an unpolitical, unrelated question.... I know you love what you do. But do you ever regret being so much in the public eye. Do you think it takes away from any of the ... how do I put this? You always have to be on your best behavior. Do you ever feel like you're missing out on anything?  
Brian Sims: I think that everybody, no matter whether you have a public job, or a public social life, or a private life. I know that sounds funny, but we know people that have very public private lives. Whether you ...  
Chris: Was that a read? Are you judging me? Is that what you're doing right now? I can feel that.  
Brian Sims: No, no. (laugh) I think that there are times when privacy is something that all of us look for and there are times when we recognize that being public is important to us too. I don't know is the answer. I have only been in this job for four years. I don't have a whole lot to compare it to professionally with respect to the public eye.  
Chris: I'm going to go back to when you mention that you eat out a lot. What's your favorite restaurant in Philly?  
Brian Sims: The best thing about living in the inner city is that there are 10 restaurants within three block in any different direction. My favorite restaurant, like my favorite movie, and my favorite song gets to depend on my mood, it gets to depend on what meal I'm thinking about, what time of day it is. I have a couple of favorites. I really love Franky Bradley's. Right now I think the best bowl of soup in all of Philadelphia is the miso ramen at Cheu.  
Chris: Oh my goodness, I had that yesterday. It was the best thing in the world.  
Brian Sims: Holy mackerel, right?  
Chris: I didn't want it to end.  
Brian Sims: It is an enormous bowl of soup ...  
Chris: That's true.  
Brian Sims: For a lot of people it doesn’t end.   
Chris: (laughs) I'm not going to take much more of your time. I know you're driving and you probably have 150 other things to do and call and check emails. If I catch you texting and driving, I will back-hand you, so don't do that. Is there anything else you want to say to our listeners slash readers at Philly Gay Calendar?  
Brian Sims: Yes, and that is that there is ... It is impossible to over state the importance of the LGBT vote, in this election specifically. We know from past elections in Pennsylvania, and nationally, that we of the LGBT community vote tremendously democrat and we vote at higher rates than the general population. Hillary Clinton, I believe, is going to be the next president of the United States. But only if we get out and vote for her. She is only going to have the type of congress and the type of government that she can work with if we get out and vote for them. We as the LGBT community actually will get to make a tangible difference in this election. We have seen more gains in our civil rights in the last eight years than we have in the last 80 years. But most of those came from the executive branch of government. It is never more been important, never been more critical to who we are as community and who we are as Americans for us to get out and vote.
Chris: All right, well now I have another question. What would you say to those people who are thinking of voting third party? Is it a smart decision? Or is it, what they say, "a wasted vote?"  
Brian Sims: From my vantage point, as a democrat who wants a democrat to win, anybody that would vote third party would therefore be voting against what I think is in the best interest of our country. But to call a good vote or a bad vote is against the rest of people who want to vote third party. I'll say it this way, I think everybody can find frustration in both parties, I think everybody can find lots of frustration in politics. If you want to see the gains that we have made lost, a third party vote is more likely to make that happen. A democratic vote is more likely to secure those gains. If you want to see anarchy, a third party vote is more likely to make that happen. The only thing a third party vote is not likely to do is to elect a third party candidate. Everyone's entitled to their own populous about their vote. But the reality, and that is a hard fact, the reality is a vote for a third party is not going to lead to a third party president. A vote for a third party is more likely to lead to a republican president. If those realities factor in to somebody's own populous about their own third party vote and they still chose to make it, I am frustrated by that, but that's up to them.
Chris: I promised not to take more than 15 minutes of your time, so I'm going to let you go. Enjoy the rest of your drive, and don't text.  


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