Mayoral candidates chat with East Falls residents

 Doug Oliver at East Falls Presbyterian Church. (Brian Hickey/WHYY)

Doug Oliver at East Falls Presbyterian Church. (Brian Hickey/WHYY)

If you didn’t make it out to the candidates’ night in East Falls on Monday, Nelson Diaz says not to worry.

The former judge encouraged Philadelphia residents to call the phone number at the bottom of his website and he will take your calls between now and the primary election on May 19.

“I got nothing better to do than to spend my time with you,” Diaz said.

With one week until the primary election, all of the Democratic mayoral candidates except for former state Sen. Milton Street showed up last night to the event inside the East Falls Presbyterian Church.

Each of the candidates had three minutes to share their campaign platforms, and then members of the East Falls Community Council were allowed to ask questions.

Diaz fielded questions regarding pension plan funding and the school system, maintaining that he’s not against charter schools, but that his primary focus is traditional public education.

Doug Oliver, a former Philadelphia Gas Works executive, was asked how he plans to attract more jobs to the city.

“Believe it or not, fixing our schools is one of the biggest indicators of whether big business wants to come to the city,” Oliver said. 

Former district attorney Lynne Abraham received three rounds of applause while discussing the Philadelphia School Reform Commission and gun control.

“Our legislature lacks the guts to enact sensible gun control,” Abraham said. “They’re not willing to stand up right now, but I will be right in their face just as I always have been.”

Former Councilman Jim Kenney addressed taxing nonprofits, referencing a program in Boston that he’d like to model.

“They take large institutions and reassess all the land under nonprofit status, come up with an assessment number, sit down and negotiate and come to an agreement,” Kenney said. “Of course, you have to be careful to not hurt churches and all those groups who struggle every day to provide services to our citizens.”

State Sen. Anthony Williams, arriving an hour in, explained why he previously stated that he would replace Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey if elected mayor.

“I’m not sure why this was so controversial,” Williams said. “But I simply want to stop stop-and-frisk. Michael Nutter ran on stop-and-frisk. So I’m going to pick my own commissioner just like every other mayor to stay consistent.”

City Council candidates included current Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Sherrie Cohen (at-large,) William Greenlee (at-large,) and Terrence Tracy (Republican at large.)

Judicial candidates included Chris McCabe, Tom Martin, and Rainey Papademetriou for the Court of Common Pleas, and Anne E. Lazarus for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

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