Meet David Kralle: Philadelphia’s Jack of All Trades

Malik Neal, Columnist

A small, late model, green Toyota arrives at the parking lot of the 8th Police District on Academy Road in far Northeast Philadelphia on Thursday, October 7, 2010. The driver, not a State Representative but 25-year-old David Kralle, a staff aide to Representative Denny O’Brien, exits the vehicle to present the Officer of the Month, a  community service award, to Police Officer Ruben. Officer Ruben was responsible for the apprehension of an arm robbery suspect who preyed upon a local Dunkin Donuts. It’s all part of a day’s work for Mr. Kralle, but a vital relationship he values with the constituents of the district he serves.

Officially, David Kralle  is Special Assistant to State Representative and former Speaker of Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Dennis O’ Brien. The 169th district of which Rep. O’ Brien represents is made up of mostly of Democrats; yet, Rep. O’Brien has managed to hold on to the seat since 1982 because of his bipartisan bent and his excellent community-based constituent services, for which recently Mr. Kralle is responsible.

“It’s really hard to describe what exactly I do, said Kralle, I’m a jack of all trades.” Kralle is now the de-facto Chief of Staff for Rep. O’ Brien, a job he has held since 2009 when he graduated from Temple University. The position entails, among other things, handling the day-to-day operations in the office and substituting for O’Brien when scheduling prohibits the Representative himself from appearing. Kralle also established the outreach agenda for the Representative. He coordinated “Bringing Government to Your Door” and Youth Expo, an outreach event dedicated educate youth in the district about state government.

Kralle’s deep affection for the district is the motivating force behind the work he does. In addition to serving under Rep. O’Brien, Kralle is also a Republican committeeman in 66th Ward, 24th Division. As a committeeman, Kralle is responsible for electing the ward leader, getting out the vote on election day, and more importantly, serving as the liaison between the people and the their elected officials in the division. “People in the community need assistance and essentially I’m a conduit for the people,  helping them get their concerns addressed,” said Kralle. Kralle’s activism, however, does not end there. He is also treasurer of  his local Town Watch, where  he oversees the funds and occasionally “tours the neighborhood to make sure everything is safe.”

Kralle’s involvement in politics began at a young age. Along with a friend, he started SEPTARS (Southeastern Pennsylvania Teenage Republicans), a group dedicated to promoting Republican activism among youth. His stepfather was a Judge and his grandfather was a Republican committeeman like Kralle. One day, Kralle’s grandfather was in Rep. O’ Brien’s district office and O’Brien told him about a Page Program, a program for young people to do clerical work—filing papers, making copies and answering phone calls. Kralle’s grandfather thought this would a great opportunity for his grandson, so Kralle became a page, and the rest is history.

Before serving in his current job, Kralle volunteered in Rep. O’Brien’s district office and worked on his re- election campaign. This eventually led to a job offer:

“While at my freshman orientation for college, I received a call from Denny’s (as he calls him) office asking for my Social Security Number. I thought this information was kind of personal,  I nevertheless gave it to them. Within a few weeks, I was offered a job as a legislative aide.”

At college, however, Kralle tried to avoid politics. As he stated, “I just wanted to get out.” He originally majored in Biology at Temple, pushing the political sphere of his life in the background. However, it did not remain that way for long. He eventually majored in Political Science and got involved in politics once more because he believes politics has the ability to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives. He is continuing his formal education by pursuing a Masters degree in Government Administration at Fels School of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel satisfied by the smiles I see on constituents’ faces. Whether it’s fighting against insurance companies on behalf of constituents or helping with potholes, those small things make a big difference.”

In addition, Kralle believes young people, the oft-labeled Generation Y, can make a big difference as well. “Every issue has a public component,” said Kralle. He tells young people: “It doesn’t matter what you’re party affiliation is, find an issue and just get involved.” He urges others to “get constructive” by getting involved with the political process.

When asked about how he felt about being called an up and coming star in politics, Kralle, with humility, answered:

“It’s really an honor. I don’t expect it. I blush every time I receive compliments about my work. The biggest compliment, however, anyone can give me is that I help make a difference in the district.”

Much remains, however, to be done: constituent services, outreach programs, community support, elderly services, youth services, public safety, job promotion and economic development—all important, and all on his crowded agenda begging for attention. They are the everyday grist for the political mill which just keeps on grinding. This is the reality of politics working at the grassroots level, where it has the most direct impact on people’s everyday lives.

Kralle is living proof of Aristotle’s comment that “man is a political animal,” meaning quite simply that people brand together in social groups to promote their common good and individual welfare. This process is guided, nurtured and slowly perfected by Kralle everyday in his district.

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