The Philadelphia Mayor’s race is all but over. The candidates have carved out their positions, chosen the weak spots in their opponents that they want to zero in on, and have given enough debates to create enough white noise for a horror movie. Which is why I was quasi-excited, yet steadfastly resolved, to watch Monday nights debate. I lieu of writing a treatise on my opinions I thought I would write my top five observations from the #NextMayorPHL debate.
Observation #1: Jim Kenney is going to be the next Mayor of Philadelphia. Politics is an insider game and Kenney has the support of enough organizations and unions that I highly doubt he can be toppled. Furthermore, the other candidates tilted their hands by focusing on Kenney for their 1-to-1 questions in the latter part of the debate. It was clear to anyone watching that they consider him the front runner, which is why they challenged him so forthrightly. Doug Oliver even used the opportunity to pick up some straggler votes by using the chance to get Kenney to dote on him during his Q & A. Brilliant business-acumen; not enough to win the bid.
SIDENOTE: (I also want to note that Mr. Kenney said that if he is elected that stop & frisk ends on day one. We must hold him to this promise.)
Observation #2: Nelson Diaz should be given a shot as a legitimate contender. While the man is a bit too antsy to prove his experience he has lots of very good things to say. More than once he made incredibly salient and refreshing points that should be staples of every campaign on stage. For example, he touched on the fact that artists are the lifeblood of our city and should be prioritized over the profit of the owners of the city’s sports teams. I jokingly tweeted that his closing statement was basically, “I started from the bottom now I’m here.” As jokingly as I meant the statement, it should not be the final word. If Diaz had the charisma of Kenney or Williams then we would have a two-way race. Unfortunately, he does not.
Observation #3: Milton Street won’t be Mayor but he is hilarious and has very good things to say about poverty and violence. If you were on Twitter you couldn’t help but notice that your feed was suddenly bombarded (pun intended) with #SkyRocks. The off-the-cuff and clearly unrehearsed comment was directed at… I don’t remember actually… which is kind of the point. His message was lost between his anecdotes. That man made probably my favorite comment of the night: that when the poor vote “by block” then they will win and change will come. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Milton Street is not that candidate.
Observation #4: Lynne Abraham is irrelevant in this race. She sells herself as tough and decisive, qualities that she sees as defining a good leader. She is right, but she does not exhibit these qualities well enough to be Mayor. Philly, some candidates were quick to point out, is the 11th dirtiest city in the country and “one incident away from becoming [the #BaltimoreUprising].” Both of those things are true, but the city is also growing very fast and can become Roman in stature. Lynne Abraham, with her poor decisions as DA and ruthless nature haunting her, is a relic of a bygone day. Doug Oliver, a newcomer and longshot in this race, would be a much better Mayor and he has nowhere near the support he needs. I can only say this about Ms. Abraham’s career: rest in peace.
Observation #5: Where was State Senator Williams? While the polls would have you believe that Sen. Williams is holding fast at second, he did not command the stage… except for one moment. On the subject of police-community relations he gave a passionate speech about how the time for talk is over and that this city needs action immediately. It was beautifully said; however, he always seemed to be playing second fiddle to some imaginary candidate. I don’t know if he was campaigning against himself or accepted the inevitability of Kenney, but even as he recounted his own accomplishments he put Mayor Nutter at the head of the table. Sen. Williams has a lot of good things to say. I believe him when he says he quarterbacked legislation through Harrisburg. The problem is that we need a Head Coach, not a quarterback. I would give Senator Williams a solid third.