Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Debate 4/21
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Philadelphia and 6 ABC
Moderators: Tamala Edwards and Matt O’Donnell
The format was different from most debates. The candidates all sat around a table. The moderators would ask a question of one candidate and then allow the others to respond or modify the question slightly to individualize it. This often led to candidates talking over each other. I couldn’t keep up with the changes in the questions and so went with the first, broad question asked.
These are rough notes. My apologies in advance for any errors or misinterpretations.
The candidates attending with links to their campaign websites are listed below (caution, Brady and Fattah's sites open with music, caution in work settings)
Bob Brady (B)
Dwight Evans (E)
Chaka Fattah (F)
Tom Knox (K)
Michael Nutter (N)
Q: Crime, what went wrong?
N: lack of opportunity, lack of jobs, educational attainment, commitment to focus on young people. Those coming out of prisons need jobs, invest in kids at earliest possible age, mentoring, dedicated attention and focus.
E: from a leadership standpoint it wasn’t a question of political will but lack of the right kind of leadership. Talking about this differently than others, esp Tom Knox. Need good solid leadership in police dept. Knox creates a record, I have a record
K: I guess it’s the time for everyone to start criticizing someone. I won’t do that. Too few jobs, too many drugs, need redirection in educational system. Recidivism too high, need career training in prison. Career training in schools, 45% of kids aren’t graduating. Been a businessman all my life, running successful businesses, hiring successful people.
F: will have a city wide all out effort to deal with crime, get illegal drugs off street, bring together federal, state, local police agencies, execute warrants for those wanted, don’t try to win political points off tragedy inflicted on Philadelphia families.
B: Son of a cop. Knows what is like for the phone to ring at 4 a.m. Need to give police officers tools to do their job. Cars that run, radios that work. Need redeployment. Shouldn’t have officers with guns and badges sitting behind a desk. Put habitual violent criminals away.
N: Only candidate to have put police officers on the street. Supported police dept. Targeted enforcement zones. My plan is the most aggressive on the table.
E: Tom is trying to sell himself as the David Cohen of the Rendell administration. No experience in fighting crime. I brought John Timoney to Philadelphia.
[Evans and Knox argue and talk over each other]
E: Knox is trying to present himself as something he is not. When Rendell was mayor, I was part of the Gang of 5 pushing for change in police dept.
K: Never said I was David Cohen. Rendell put me in charge of management and productivity. I can fight crime as well as anybody at the table.
F: Need to focus on fact that Philadelphia has highest rate of poverty of any major city. I have a program that has gotten 700 guns off the street. Need to work together not attack each other.
B: City is suffering. Had a summit with every major player. Chamber of Commerce has agreed to have 1000 jobs for kids this summer, give them a taste of what it is like to work.
E: There can only be one mayor. Who has the ability to do what they say they are going to do? Don’t believe Tom has that ability.
F: Personal attacks not helping
Q: Almost half of the kids in Philadelphia schools not graduating on time, a quarter never graduate.
F: As mayor education will be #1 priority. Will take families and children very seriously. Set up scholarship program. Reform effort needs to be supported. Schools will not be last in line.
B: Need smaller class sizes. I am a teacher and have taught at the University of Pennsylvania for 11 years. I know about class size. Easier to teach a class of 22 than a class of 60. Some Philadelphia schools have a 2nd grade and a 3rd grade in the same room. Need smaller class sizes, more individuality.
N: Need to make sure school buildings safe. I know what it is like to wonder what is going on in a school building. I take my daughter to school. First thing is ensure a safe environment. Primary focus, safe school environment. For those struggling, make sure there is a safe alternative.
Q: police officer in every school
E: Schools that request them should get them. City needs to increase money going to schools. Take a long term strategy to select new school ceo. Also talk about what happens at school. Organizing parental families
K: Have safety plans for each school. Need to give kids options to stay in school. Either four year high school diploma or career training. [gave example that I missed] Need economic viability at the end of 4 years.
F: Put a cop in every high school and middle school
N: have a school safety plan for every school, city police need to work with school police
F: nothing more important than our children. Had an officer in school when I was in school.
B: Ask the governor , mayor, etc. not to pick new school ceo until after primary. State take over, need to have state involved to get money from state. Mayor is responsible for schools.
E: support state take over. Do what is interest of students. Opportunity to open up more choices and options.
K: Privatized school scores not any better than public schools. Make sure it works before spend more money. Philadelphia has to take over control of the schools from the state.
F: When state took over the plan was for Edison to run all schools. Will be run out of town when I am mayor.
N: If state take over just about kids, then funding formula would have been changed. Support more funding coming from city. But can’t do as much as state can. State required to provide good education.
F: work with Rendell and state legislators. We will educate out children.
B: We spend $20K per child in the suburbs, $10K in city.
Q: Economy, Philadelphia 10th poorest city in the US, but has high tax burden
K: Where does the money go? We need to get that money back.
[talking over each other]
E: Only one at this table who led the effort for the convention center, which transformed city. That investment took $185 million. Arts and culture very important. Who best has the ability to implement what they say they will do?
F: Will cut the wage tax, eliminate gross receipts tax. We need jobs in the city, educate population so they have the skill sets needed. Need more college educated adults.
N: Focus should be city wide. Only person who has lowered a tax in Phildelphia. Already cutting the wage tax. Also lowered business privilege tax. Taxes a problem for all businesses city wide. Make it easier for entrepreneurs and locals to open business.
E: Using community college can move people from poverty. More options available than ever before re: funding. What did they do in the positions they were in.
F: My plan is to help 80,000 Philadelphians who have some college finish their degree. Set up scholarship, $15 million to get kids who graduate into college.
B: Speaking of the Community College of Philadelphia, when people had a problem who did they call? Me. Casinos bring a lot of money into the city. Problem is no neighbor participation. Get neighbor participation. Let them know what’s going on.
K: We have plenty of people in top of educational system. Plenty of people at the bottom. Need middle, with career training opportunities. Lowering taxes in Philadelphia because Rendell administration turned budget deficit into a budget surplus. Don’t like casinos and what they bring in. But do like construction and jobs they bring. If you don’t’ want casinos in people’s neighborhood, put them on naval base.
E: Casinos are an oppotunity for wage tax reduction. Helps expansion of convention center, hire 500 additional police. In a perfect world there would be no gaming in America.
N: opposed to what state had done with gaming. Nixed one casino location which now a Target and two other stores across the street. Gaming is “everyone else is doing it why don’t we?”
F: Casinos not getting at the real problem. Too many people below poverty line. Laid out a detailed plan. Lease airport. Let every family have an opportunity.
E: After 9/11 won’t turn around and let airport be leased. Fuzzy math.
F: Amendement in Congress to let airport lease with money be used in areas other than airport. Lease airport. Been done in other areas.
B: Half of airport in Del Co. A little against selling off all our assets.
K: Not going to base our future and our kids’ future on leasing airport. Getting it done can take forever.
E: Earned income tax. Something we are trying to do in Harrisburg first. Raise minimum wage, increase money to community college.
K: Better management more productivity; get rid of pay to play. Get rid of no bid contracts. Get rid of fraud.
N: lower taxes create opportunity, let people go to community college. When construction contracts given make sure more neighborhood people get work there.
B: Need to lower tax issue. Need to get better work force development. Vocational training or go to college. Need to make it safe for people to come into the city.
Q: what is a failure you have had and what did you learn from it?
K: Haven’t had any failures in my life. Did regret not finishing school but went back and finished.
B: 4th grade, didn’t catch a ball in a game.
E: in 2007 still debating issue of violence. I raised this issue in 1999 and we are still working on it.
F: used to skeptics. People didn’t think I could get rid of high rises or establish scholarships but I did. Failure is low aim. Need to think bigger.
N: first run for office, learned the importance of working harder, doing extra.
Q: Pay to play. Can you guarantee that city would trust government again if you are mayor?
B: No one at this table has been involved in pay to play. It’s about character. If you have character you attract people with character
F: Get rid of no bid contracts so there will be no correlation between contracts and contributions to me. Put contracts online. Put city budget online. Need a government that focuses on city issues.
N: Put a lot of procedures already. I created city’s ethics board. Personal leadership of mayor. Every contract now on city’s website. We have procedures and steps in place.
K: I’ve had 15 different companies. Key is hiring good men and women for high level positions.
E: We raise money because we need it for tv ads. If we could have this [debate] once a week on tv it would change the way we conduct politics. If you want to change the way we do business change the process. Public financing can change politics. Media has as much responsibility because airwaves regulated.
F: Voters need honest and open govt. Lack of educational attainment and high level of poverty. Ethic and effectiveness.
B: It’s the crime. We have to fix the crime.
N: Thank you for opportunity to be here. Voters have the power to change the future. I stood up and took the action necessary to move Philadelphia for the better. I Look forward to leading the city into a bright future. Demonstrated leadership, independent, integrity. Ready to lead.
E; Thank for opportunity to be here. [cites example of Faheem Thomas Child murdered in city of Philadelphia.] You have heard candidates talk about what they have done. Can they do what needs to be done? Have they done say what they said they would do? Hope you will vote for me.
F: We have to lift Philadelphia. Focus not on neighborhoods but on neighbors. More small businesses, more college graduates, more tenants becoming homeowners.
K: I grew up in public housing, grew up poor, written off told I didn’t have a chance. I don’t want that to happen to others ins Philadelphia. Pay to play hindering Philadelphia. Running against back room politics. Haven’t forgotten where I can from. Running for my mother and all mothers. Running for my brother and all families that have lost people to drugs.
B: There are four candidates that have all their life helped people. Knox hasn’t. He’s been in predatory lending, etc. My vision is too important to let Tom Knox be mayor. Families should be able to walk kids to school and go to a job that provides a living.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Debate 4/21