Well over 100 people headed into the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill on Thursday afternoon to hear mayoral candidate Lynne Abraham speak.
The event, part of a monthly speaker series, was titled, “Just where is Philadelphia headed, anyway?”
“Originally, when we invited her to speak, she wasn’t yet a candidate for Mayor,” explained Leslie Lefer, Director of Center on the Hill, which organized the event. “The timeliness of today’s event was just a bonus. People wanted to hear what she had to say. It’s always good to be reminded of how great a place Philly is by someone who has such passion for the subject.”
Abraham was introduced by Jim Walker, who noted in his remarks that several of Abraham’s classmates from Germantown High School were in attendance.
“I have had a love affair with this city for as long as I can remember,” said Abraham. “I have always felt that this city had tremendous potential, which is only just now beginning to be realized.”
Abraham stressed a feature she sees as unique to her candidacy.
“I’m nobody’s mayor but yours,” said Abraham, announcing her campaign slogan. “I’m not owned by anybody — no special interest group, no organization, no industry. I’m at a stage in my life where I can do what I want. Nobody’s paying me to be their candidate.”
Continuing her prepared remarks, Abraham identified three issues as being “sine qua non” for May’s upcoming primary election: education, jobs, and safety.
She called especially for the complete overhaul of Philadelphia’s education system, asking with genuine concern, “How can we best deliver this service that our children need and desire in order to be successful in their future endeavors?”
When asked for specific about her education plans, she identified as being of potentially great significance Governor Tom Wolf’s support for a 5 percent natural gas extraction tax, adding that Wolf has claimed that the vast majority of state funds raised via the tax will go toward public education.
“Now the Governor, I hope, will see to the passage of a bill in the legislature that will give every school district in the state full and equal funding,” said Abraham.
She added that if she is elected, she would try and work with the Wolf administration to phase the School Reform Commission out of existence.
Abraham spoke enthusiastically about Thursday’s announcement that the 2016 Democratic National Convention will be hosted in Philadelphia. She said the event presents opportunities to the city, not only for commerce and tourism, but also for marketing and brand extension.
“People will be coming to Philadelphia from all over the country that might not have a great opinion of the city because they’ve never been here,” said Abraham. “But think of these people, all coalescing in our city, who will see that we have everything going on here, all within the relatively compressed area of Center City.”