It was musical chairs at the Mayoral Forum in Mt. Airy on Wednesday night with candidates coming and going, and two never showing up.
More than 100 folks showed up to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Northwestern Philadelphia for the 7 p.m. start time, but the event did not begin until 7:30 p.m. as moderator Tamala Edwards of 6abc Action News, also a Mt. Airy resident, stalled for state Sen. Anthony Williams’ late arrival.
Then former Councilman Jim Kenney had to leave 16 minutes into the forum due to a prior engagement, but not before discussing his association with unions, his Inquirer endorsement snub, and receiving dark money from Local 98’s Johnny Doc.
“Dark money is not even dark anymore because it’s been reported on as to where it all comes from on the independent expenditure report,” Kenney said.
When Edwards brought up Williams’ recent negative campaign ad (the first of its kind in this year’s race) targeting Kenney’s comments made about the use of police force. In 1997 Kenney said, “You can’t use the flashlights. You can’t use the clubs on the head. You can’t shoot anybody. What’s next? Are we gonna hand them feather dusters?”.
Last night Kenney said you have to understand the context in which he said this. “An 8-year-old boy went to a grocery store to buy a bag of cookies and was killed in crossfire of a guy robbing the store,” Kenney said. “I was upset. Those comments were unwarranted, they were wrong, but if you take them out of context, they’re even worse.”
Williams finally arrived around 7:51 p.m., taking Kenney’s vacant seat and wasting no time in opening fire on the former councilman.
“He shouldn’t cry over spilled milk because somebody said a bad word about him—those words are true,” Williams said.
“We’re only one incident away from what’s happened in Baltimore and a person like that would be very chaotic in a city like Philadelphia,” added former Judge Nelson Diaz.
Williams, Diaz, and former Philadelphia Gas Works executive Doug Oliver also discussed education, pensions, jobs, poverty, and sustainability.
Former district attorney Lynne Abraham had a schedule conflict and former state Sen. Milton Street’s campaign team never responded to the invite.
Pennsylvania’s primary election is May 19.