Doug Oliver talks quitting his job at PGW, his background, and how he’s reaching voters

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 Doug Oliver, Mayor Michael Nutter's former spokesman, is one of six Democratic candidates for mayor running in the May primary. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Doug Oliver, Mayor Michael Nutter's former spokesman, is one of six Democratic candidates for mayor running in the May primary. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

For months, the six Democrats running for mayor of Philadelphia have been on a treadmill of public forums, debates, and meet-and-greets — chewing on a familiar slate of issues.

So, in an effort to break out of the well-worn political discourse, I’ve been having casual conversations with the candidates about their lives as well as a few pet issues.

Next up is Doug Oliver, former spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter and the youngest candidate in the Democratic field.

He quit his job at Philadelphia Gas Works to start his campaign for mayor, but he’s been criticized as a political newcomer with no voting record for citizens to consider. In our conversation in early March at a busy Center City coffee shop, Oliver shot back at that analysis.

“We have a history of mayors who have come with legislative backgrounds,” Oliver said. “Yet we still have challenges with our schools, we still have challenges with our tax structure, we still have challenges with our pensions.”

It’s clear Oliver wants to reach young and disaffected voters, promising to usher in a new era at City Hall if elected.

“Please don’t give up on your city. Don’t vote because you need government — that model has changed,” Oliver said.  “Vote because government needs you.”

Oliver went on to discuss urban poverty, school funding, and the legacy of Philadelphia’s African-American mayors.

The Pennsylvania primary election will take place May 19.

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