Faith-based leaders endorse Tony Williams for mayor

 State Sen. Anthony Williams accepts the endorsement of a collection of faith-based leaders on Friday. (Brian Hickey/WHYY)

State Sen. Anthony Williams accepts the endorsement of a collection of faith-based leaders on Friday. (Brian Hickey/WHYY)

Flanked by more than a dozen religious leaders inside a packed Hilton City Line Avenue conference room, mayoral candidate Tony Williams spoke about his “one Philadelphia” vision while accepting their endorsement of his candidacy on Friday afternoon.

After several of the bishops, reverends, pastors, rabbis, imams and priests from across the city testified on his behalf (PDF), Williams spoke to NinetyNine about the importance of the event in comparison to others he’s received so far.

While some endorsing groups have niche focuses, those attending houses of worship among all denominations are affected by a wider array of issues.

“It’s a different type of endorsement [because of] how congregations are organized,” he explained, taking a moment to note that this was not a Black Clergy of Philadelphia group endorsement.

Other groups “tend to be focused on one issue, or certain issues, but [faith-based leaders] touch upon employment, education, crime, public safety,” he continued. “It’s not one demographic. It’s [people in] synagogues and churches. It’s imams. It’s truly ‘one Philadelphia.'”

Introduced as the candidate with the “type of leadership this city needs in a critical time,” Williams spoke about:

— Education (“We can’t wait for the system to change; we have to change it”),

— Opportunities that could come from the energy hub push (“It will change Philadelphia to what Houston looks like”) and, among other issues,

— Strained relations between the Police Department and public. He called for more diversity, training and cameras, both on police and in the neighborhoods. (“I don’t know about you, but if somebody breaks into my house at 2 a.m., I’m not calling Town Watch, I’m calling the police, but I don’t want to be arrested because they think I’m the one who broke in.”)

“All these issues I talk about — schools, economy, police — people are running campaigns forcing politicians to take one side or the other,” he said. “Charters versus traditional schools. Big business versus little business. Police versus the community.

“I’m not that guy. That’s not what Philadelphia needs. It needs someone who brings the city together, and that’s not easy work. That’s why I’m going to need you all to pray a lot.”

For more related news, check NinetyNine’s Philadelphia Mayoral-Race Endorsement Tracker.

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