With the departure of lawyer Ken Trujillo from the Philadelphia mayor’s race, three Democratic candidates remain. One of them is state Sen. Anthony Williams. Williams is the son of the late state Sen. Hardy Williams — a political force in the 1970’s and 80’s who helped usher in a generation of black leaders in the city. Anthony Williams has spent 26 years in the legislature — 10 in the state house, and 16 in the senate. He spoke with WHYY’s Senior Reporter, Dave Davies.
Williams has historically been known for pushing for charter schools in Philadelphia, though he says he believes simply in school choice.
“I don’t believe that there’s a panacea out there relative to any menu of options,” said Williams. “Charters may be great in some areas and may not be so great in other areas. Neighborhood schools may perform well in some areas and may not perform well in other areas, but the bottom line is we have to get to a system that serves all.”
To prove his pro-public school credentials, Williams points to decades of accomplishments in the legislature. He fought to increase funding in the legislature under governors Bob Casey and Ed Rendell, and most recently authored a bill allowing Philadelphia to charge a two dollar per pack tax on cigarettes to fund schools.
“I think that demonstrates my commitment to not only supporting public education, but to the funding issue,” he said.
Asked what lessons he’s taken from his father, Williams said the biggest one is the value of a good education.
“My father came from what people would describe as a ‘po’ background. Not poor, ‘po,'” he said. “‘Po’ meaning you couldn’t afford the R at the end of the ‘poor’ word. He transitioned from that to going to Penn law school. I mean that’s amazing to me. And so he was a tribute to me to sort of push myself harder personally.”