Williams officially joins race for Philly mayor

 Pennsylvania Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams waves to supporters Wednesday evening as he formally declares his candidacy for mayor of Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Pennsylvania Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams waves to supporters Wednesday evening as he formally declares his candidacy for mayor of Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Six months before the primary election, the field of candidates for Philadelphia mayor became more clearly defined Wednesday with announcements from former District Attorney Lynne Abraham and state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.

Hours after Abraham formally began her campaign, Williams officially stepped up as a candidate at the Independence Visitor Center. Surrounded by a few hundred supporters, including School Reform Commission chairman Bill Green and other politicians, Williams focused on education in announcing his bid to lead the city.

“We should be lifting up all Philadelphia school students. Our families are telling us every day, in every way, they cannot wait for us to fix these schools,” he said. “It’s time for us to get it done, and it starts with all of us, all of us!”

Williams, who has been a vocal advocate of school choice, encouraged the crowd to join in his apparent campaign slogan, “One Philadelphia.”

He also talked about improving the local economy and changing the way business is done in City Hall, but was short on specifics. Williams said he will lay out a more detailed plan in the coming months after getting feedback from citizens.

Many political insiders say Williams is the front-runner for the Democrats’ nod to run in 2015. He’s already won the support of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who leads the city’s Democratic Party.

On the other hand, Williams is expected to face fierce opposition from the teachers union over his views on school choice.

Williams’ father, Hardy Williams, ran unsuccessfully for mayor about 40 years ago.

In addition to Abraham, former city solicitor Ken Trujillo and Terry Gillen, a past aide to Mayor Michael Nutter, have already kicked off their campaigns.

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