Philly mayoral hopeful Williams talks campaign supporters, being a CEO, and why he’d prefer to walk in a park

 PA Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is one of six Democratic candidates for mayor running in the May primary. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

PA Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is one of six Democratic candidates for mayor running in the May primary. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

For months, the six Democrats running for mayor of Philadelphia have been on a treadmill of public forums, debates, and meet-and-greets — chewing on a familiar slate of issues.

So, in an effort to break out of the well-worn political discourse, I’ve been having casual conversations with the candidates about their lives as well as a few pet issues.

Today, Pennsylvania state Sen. Anthony Williams discusses criticism that his campaign is largely funded by three private donors from the Susquehanna International Group, who support charter schools and vouchers.

“I don’t think that I should have to apologize because I have a wealthy friend anymore than I have a working-class friend,” Williams said. “Before I met those guys, I talked about charter schools. I talked about reform.”

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Williams also aimed that charge at another mayoral candidate, former City Councilman Jim Kenney, who has won the majority of union endorsements.

“Jim Kenney’s candidcay is whole cloth driven by [Electricians Local 98 business manager] John Dougherty. And if people are comfortable with that, that’s fine,” Williams said. “If they’re not they should understand that when it comes to negotiating municipal contracts, I’m going to be able to do that.”

Williams said he is running for mayor now so he will be able to execute his vision, which is a product of his experience as a state legislator, a small business owner, and a father of two daughters.

“I want to have the opportunity to be CEO. It’s wonderful being a legislator; it’s great being the whip,” Williams said. “But I have an opinion. I don’t have an ability to execute my opinions [right now].”

When asked which Philadelphia street he’d prefer to walk down, Williams responded that, if it were up to him, he wouldn’t walk down a street at all.

“I’d prefer to walk in a park, as opposed to a street, simply because it gives me solitude and I enjoy that moment where you’re in greenery.”

The Pennsylvania primary election will take place on Tuesday, May 19.

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