Sworn in to his first term in 2007, state Rep. Tony Payton Jr. is a legislator from Philadelphia. Before Rep. Payton was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, he worked as a housing counselor at United Communities in South Philadelphia where he educated low-income families on personal finance to help them achieve homeownership. It was through this work that Rep. Payton realized his desire for public service, and consequently, pursued and won a seat in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
In 2007, Rep. Payton was elected president of the Pennsylvania Young Democrats, a statewide organization with 47 chapters throughout the Commonwealth. As president of PYD, Rep. Payton has led a campaign to engage young professionals throughout Pennsylvania to join in the democratic process.
Since being elected to the General Assembly in 2006, Rep. Payton has been at the forefront of education reform in Pennsylvania. He introduced legislation to create the Pennsylvania Youth Commission and authored the REACH Scholarship Initiative. The REACH Scholarship, which would provide free tuition and fees to any State System university to all high school students who maintain a 3.0 grade point average and 90 percent attendance record, has been touted as a groundbreaking initiative by economists and educational leaders throughout the Commonwealth.
The REACH scholarship exemplifies Rep. Payton’s eagerness to reform Pennsylvania’s educational climate. Remarkably, as Rep. Payton pushes for the REACH Scholarship Initiative to be passed, he is still working toward a degree at the Community College of Philadelphia. At a relatively young age, Rep. Payton’s service in the House has allowed him to bring a unique perspective to the General Assembly.
Rep. Payton was a 2005-06 fellow with the Center for Progressive Leadership. He was actively involved with Philadelphia’s Young Non-profit Leaders. He is also a big brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of southeastern Pennsylvania. In 2007, he was awarded the leadership award as one of the most influential African Americans by the Philadelphia Tribune.