For the November 2015 Philadelphia Voters Guide, click here.
Lynne Abraham (D)
Need to Know
Would be Philadelphia’s first female mayor.
Undergraduate and law degrees from Temple University.
Served as a judge (municipal then common pleas court) from 1977-1991. Called “one tough cookie by late Mayor Frank Rizzo.
Served as district attorney from 1991 until 2010.
With her “nobody’s mayor but yours” slogan, she is critical of candidates supported by “dark money”
Lynne Abraham, 74, was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Germantown High School in 1958. Abraham completed her undergraduate education at Temple University before earning her Juris Doctor from Temple Law School in 1965. Abraham served in a variety of roles throughout her career, working in the Regional Counsel’s office of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, serving as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and working as Legislative Consultant for Philadelphia City Council. She served as a Judge on the Municipal Court of Philadelphia and later the Court of Common Pleas before being elected District Attorney in 1991. Abraham served as District Attorney until 2010.
Nelson Diaz (D)
Need to Know
Would be Philadelphia’s first Latino mayor.
Served as Street administration’s solicitor (top city lawyer) from Dec. 2001 through Jan. 2004.
Said he’ll fix city public schools “or die trying.” Would eliminate the SRC.
Raised in Harlem public housing, he’s called Philly home for 45 years. Currently a Chestnut Hill resident.
Common Court Pleas judge (1981-1993); appointed by Pres. Bill Clinton as general counsel of HUD in 1993.
A resident of Philadelphia for over 45 years, Nelson Diaz, 68, earned a Bachelors in accounting from St. John’s University in 1969 before moving to Philadelphia to study law at Temple. He received his Juris Doctor in 1972—the first person of Puerto Rican descent to do so. In 1981, he was elected to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, becoming the youngest and first Latino elected judge in Pennsylvania’s history. Diaz served until 1993, when he was appointed general counsel to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He also served as Philadelphia’s City Solicitor from 2001 to ’04 and is currently a partner at the Philadelphia law firm Dilworth Paxson.
Jim Kenney (D)
Need to Know
Served as Democratic city councilman at large for 23 years.
Grew up in South Philly the oldest of four. His father, a fireman; his mother, a homemaker.
Led Council’s marijuana decriminalization push along with efforts to boost LGBT rights, immigration and campaign finance.
Independent expenditure group with ties to unions bankrolling TV-ad campaigns. Ties in past to disgraced state Sen. Vince Fumo.
Got into Twitter spat with NJ Gov. Chris Christie about the Eagles/Cowboys rivalry.
Jim Kenney, 57, a lifelong South Philadelphian, was an at-large member of City Council from 1992 until 2015. During that time, he created the Committee on the Environment, championed regulations on the towing and construction industries and advocated for computerized ethics training for city employees. Kenney serves on the boards of Independence Blue Cross, Keystone Mercy Health Plan East, Community College of Philadelphia, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, the Mayor’s Commission of Community Service and the O.V. Catto Memorial Fund, as well as the Mural Arts and Office of Sustainability advisory boards. A graduate of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School (1976) and LaSalle University (1980), he currently teaches a course on local politics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government.
Doug Oliver (D)
Need to Know
The youngest candidate in the Democratic field (40 years old)
Former spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter and former senior VP of marketing and corporate communications for PGW.
Needs to drive young-voter/millennial turnout to vote for him.
Former Mayor/Gov. Ed Rendell lauded his “rise-and-grind” campaign approach.
Believes that fixing schools is the key to reinvigorating the city as a whole.
Mayor Michael Nutter’s press secretary from 2008 to 2010, Douglas I. Oliver, 40, was most recently Senior VP of Marketing and Corporate Communications for Philadelphia Gas Works. Earlier, he was Press secretary and Director of Communications for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare in Harrisburg, outreach and public-relations manager for Child Care Information Services in Philadelphia and an account executive for Beach Communication in Philadelphia. And he’s a co-founder (and first president) of the National Black Public Relations Society’s Philadelphia chapter. A graduate of Lock Haven University (B.A., journalism and mass communication), LaSalle University (M.A., professional communication) and St. Joseph’s University (Executive M.B.A.), Oliver has also served as an adjunct professor at LaSalle. He resides in East Oak Lane with his 12-year-old son.
Milton Street (D)
Need to Know
Elected to state house in 1978 as a Democrat. Elected to state senate two years later; switched to Republican upon election.
Declared mayoral candidacy in 2007 never materialized (notable moment: press conference with coffin outside City Hall). In 2011, he drew 24 percent of the primary vote vs. Michael Nutter in two-candidate Democratic primary.
Brother of former Mayor John Street.
Served 26 months of a 30 months prison sentence after 2007 conviction for failure to file three years worth of federal taxes.
Campaign platform centered on violence in communities and schools. Says he would not retain Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey if elected.
The older brother of former Mayor John Street, Thomas Milton Street, 74, is a former hot-dog vendor and state legislator, and a lifelong activist. Born in Montgomery County in 1941, Street was elected to a North Philadelphia seat in the PA House of Representatives in 1978 and to a North and Northeast Philadelphia State Senate seat two years later. He lost that seat in 1984 after switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, and also lost an Independent challenge to U.S. Representative Bill Gray in 1982. This is Street’s third City Hall bid, having run briefly in 2007 and again in 2011, when he captured 24 percent of the Democratic primary vote running against incumbent Michael Nutter.
Anthony Hardy Williams (D)
Need to Know
Namesake son of the late Anthony “Hardy” Williams, leading African American politician.
Served in state house (D-191st) since 1989 to 1998; state senate in the years since.
Finished third in 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Independent expenditure group with ties to strong charter-school backers bankrolling TV-ad campaigns.
Successfully sponsored cigarette tax bill to increase public education funding for the School District of Philadelphia. Created the Gun Violence Task Force.
Anthony Hardy Williams, 58, was born in Philadelphia and holds a B.S. in economics from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. Williams held corporate-analysis and executive positions for PepsiCo before launching a vending company. Stirred to action by the MOVE tragedy of 1985, he decided to enter public service and was elected to the State House of Representatives (West and Southwest Philadelphia’s 191st District) in 1988 and to the State Senate (District 8, encompassing parts of Philadelphia and Delaware County) in 1998. Currently, Williams is the Senate’s Minority Whip. He’s also the Democratic leader of Ward 3 (West and Southwest Philadelphia) and son of longtime State Senator Hardy Williams.
Committee of Seventy contributed to this guide.