(Not) asked and answered: Doug Oliver’s campaign raises questions about the ‘experience’ issue

 Doug Oliver and campaign spokesman Mustafa Rashed interact with voters on the Broad Street Line. (Tracie Van Auken/for NewsWorks)

Doug Oliver and campaign spokesman Mustafa Rashed interact with voters on the Broad Street Line. (Tracie Van Auken/for NewsWorks)

In the waning days of the mayoral-primary season, NinetyNine reached out to the six Democratic candidates to pose a question about, well, questions.

Specificially, we wanted to hear their response to this query: What question hasn’t been asked of a competitor(s), or of yourself, that you wish had been? (And if it’s the latter, please provide a response).

Mayoral candidate Doug Oliver‘s campaign manager Mustafa Rashed used this question as an opportunity to examine what he considers an overall shortcoming of how an issue was covered, rather than to put a foe on the spot. (Oliver’s initial comments about the lack of independent polling were nixed after one such poll finally arrived earlier this week).

Experience has been one of the dominant story lines in this race. And when it comes to Doug Oliver, one of the common narratives has been to disregard his work experience.

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I’d like to ask if experience is so important, are we only talking about elected experience? Because that’s certainly not executive experience. And more importantly, just where exactly has that experience gotten us?

With all due respect to the other candidates and their impressive decades of experience and accomplishments — our school system isn’t highly functional, our tax structure isn’t competitive and we don’t just have a poverty problem, we’ve had to create a new category: “The super poor.”

Young people don’t leave the city because we don’t have protected bike lanes; they leave the city because they know we’re not going to educate their children.

People don’t leave the city because construction sites aren’t safe; they leave because they can’t find jobs.

I try to step outside of the campaign sometimes and think about what it must be like from the outside looking in.

I graduated from John Bartram High School 25 years ago. It wasn’t a picnic then, but I received a decent enough education. Now? They have metal detectors and teachers being assaulted by the students.

I’m off on a slight tangent here, but my point is this: What have other candidates done to fix our two biggest problems — schools and jobs during the last 25 years that the answer is “Hey, great job so far! How about a 26th year?”

The problem is politics. In no other business would repeated, continued failure of making progress be rewarded with anything other than termination. Yet here we are, four days out from May 19 and we’re not asking this question: Why? Why now do you deserve a shot to be mayor?

Candidates’ “(Not) asked and answered” responses will run over the course of the last week of the primary campaign season. Coming up Monday: Jim Kenney.


Lynne Abraham on women, children and the elderly

Tony Williams on narratives and stereotyped candidates

Nelson Diaz questions Jim Kenney on Morales issue

Milton Street asks Kenney about stop-and-frisk and young homicide victims

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