Philly mayoral candidates take turns in the hot seat at WHYY [full audio + photos]


The WHYY/Perjerdel Council Mayor Forum was different than others, instead of a debate it offered 15 minute one-on-one interviews with the candidates.  

State Sen. Anthony Williams, who is best-known as an advocate for charter schools and vouchers said he will help all Philly schools if elected.

“I am highly motivated to fix the public education system in Philadelphia that serves all Philadelphians in the same way,” he said.

Former city councilman Jim Kenney said teamwork has been lost at City Hall, and if elected, he will revive it.

“You need to make the other players on your team look very good and then the team wins,” Kenney said. “You need to give a la Ed Rendell everyone under the tent credit as if they were the most important person in the process and they never will let you fail.”

Kenney believes police need more training on how to interact with the public and he called for ending the “stop and frisk” policy.

“Stop and frisk is an obnoxious approach to young people in this city,” he said.  “My son is 26 years old and he’s never been stopped and frisked.  I’m 56 years old and I’ve never been stopped and frisked but there are young African-Americans 20 year olds in this city who get stopped twice a month.”

Former state Sen. Milton Street said because of  “stop and frisk” he would never keep Charles Ramsey as his police commissioner, calling him the “worst” in Philadelphia.  Street wants a neighborhood-based employment program to give an alternative to committing crimes.

Williams and Kenney once again sparred about disciplining police officers who exhibit racism or other forms of prejudice.  Williams has said there should be “zero tolerance” for using racial slurs or exhibiting racial bias, saying he would fire officers immediately. Kenney suggested a more lenient approach, adding there needs to me more education at the police academy and during annual mandatory training courses.

Nelson Diaz a former judge, talked about how policing would look different if he’s elected.

“In addition to community policing we should have more recreational centers with police, whether they be [Police Athletic League] centers or others — so that the kids are able to rub shoulders with the police officers and feel that they are his or her friend,” Diaz said.

Former district attorney Lynne Abraham talked about how she wanted to expand the city tax abatement in struggling neighborhoods to 20 years instead of the current 10.  She said it would offer an incentive for construction.

“I want the 20 year tax abatement to encourage a mixture of low, moderate income and market rate housing, get development going bring more people in here, stabilize our population, and meet the challenges of every community,” she said.

In addressing reforms to the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, Doug Oliver, who was an executive at Philadelphia Gas Works,  said the economic downturn hurt all the operating departments, including L&I.

“Under-resourced whether you are talking about people or money is under-resourced and unfortunately under the Nutter administration you had the worst economic crisis that the country had ever seen that’s not without impact on departments like L&I, like DHS like police like any department depending on money to do its job well,” he said.

Sen. Williams says he wants to make sure those who work for L&I know what they are doing when it comes to building and demolition safety.

“We need to invest in training we need to invest in technology,” Williams said. “We need to have departments speaking to one another so that the process of protection is real on that side of the ledger.  Then we need to obviously invest in professional inspectors so that everyone can feel that the person who is doing the inspecting actually knows what they are doing.”

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