Anthony Williams -- To Move Philly Forward

(May 2019)

I will vote for State Senator Anthony Williams for Mayor on Tuesday, May 21st and I encourage you to join me -- to build a better Philadelphia. I am not shy about voicing my opinion about what is not so great about Philadelphia and I often use this forum to advocate for what we could do to improve our city. Voting for Anthony Williams for mayor is an action step in the right direction we can take to help make Philadelphia the city we deserve.

A Failed Administration 

I supported Williams' candidacy in 2015, but after Jim Kenney won the Democratic Primary, I was happy to meet with top Kenney officials and offer my thoughts and policy prescriptions for his mayoralty. (See and I wanted the mayor to succeed because I want Philadelphia to succeed.

But, like so many Philadelphians, I have been disappointed in Kenney's term as mayor. The trash. The potholes. The murders. The poverty. The casual corruption. The lack of accountability. The acceptance of civic mediocrity. It is all just too much for a city that needs to be so much better.

One area where I joined Kenney in a shared frustration is the problem of unlawful sidewalk blockages that force pedestrians to walk into traffic on a busy street. When pushing a double stroller through Center City, I recognized how dangerous this problem can be and have grown absolutely militant about the necessity to ensure that pedestrians, wheelchair users, and stroller pushers don't find themselves mid-block with no option but to enter a traffic lane to continue their travels. Despite his kind words about the problem, Kenney's actions have failed to make a difference. What a poor use of the powers of a strong-mayor form of government. What a disappointment for anyone who believed Kenney's campaign rhetoric to fix this problem. Or end "stop-and-frisk." Or add miles of bike lanes. Or achieve true change in other areas where Mayor Kenney's deeds have failed to match candidate Kenney's words.

We need to make so much more progress reducing the poverty and murder rates and increasing the employment and graduation rates.  But it is impossible to believe a second Kenney Administration could do better on such complex issues when the mayor has failed so visibly in delivering basic city services in his first term. The filth that litters our neighborhoods and the bone-jarring rides along streets filled with potholes and the astonishing lack of fiscal accountability that had the mayor lose track of more than $30 million are all signs that the most basic functions of government are a challenge for this mayoralty.

A Promise Of Change

When Anthony Williams asked me to help shape the policy vision for his campaign, I was happy to say "yes" and to make the case that a mayor who engages us could make a better Philadelphia. I agreed to help, not because I think that Anthony Williams is a philosopher-king with all the answers, but because I see that he is genuine, I understand he wants to make a better Philadelphia, and I know that he listens.

I have come to know Anthony Williams as a man who appreciates others who are willing to tell it like it is. In a city where too many believe that "people like us" is a term reserved for individuals who look like us or worship like us, Williams knows that "people like us" are people who share our values and care about our city. He wears his heart on his sleeve when he cheers on our sports teams and he is equally passionate about wanting to speak for Philadelphians who feel they are not being heard in City Hall.

Williams lives in the house he grew up in and we speak about how neighborhoods have changed in some good, but many not-so-good ways. When we talk about the future, we speak about ideas that can improve the lives of Philadelphians. Of course, there are major policy proposals we discuss like reforms to our budgeting systems or the potential for a municipal bank to help small businesses get access to capital to grow. But, much of our discussions focus on ways to make sure that our city fulfills its basic responsibilities so that Philadelphians can live in a city they can be proud to call home.

Most important, Williams listens. Like anyone who has grown accustomed to having an audience, he is comfortable expressing his opinion, but unlike so many, he is willing to hear opposing views and be convinced to change his mind based on evidence and persuasion. That is what I want most in a mayor for Philadelphia. Williams has reached out to a diverse coalition of experts and laypeople to inform his campaign platform and I have watched him take in opposing arguments before moving a group to consensus. That is a skill a mayor needs to move a city forward.

In an Anthony Williams mayoral administration, I know there will be a need for and an acceptance of better ideas to move Philadelphia forward. I have a book-full of them and more and I know that you have plenty of thoughts that can help as well. If we elect Anthony Williams as mayor of Philadelphia, I know that he will listen to them all and that -- together -- we CAN make Philadelphia, the city we know it SHOULD be.

We don't need to worry about blame and we don't need to fret about excuses for how we got here. We need a commitment to make change and an impatience to make improvement. The candidates who tell you that it used to be worse, should never again set foot into City Hall. Those who say we deserve better, deserve a chance to make it happen.