Abrahams' unfortunate collapse and the rest of the debate
The first televised mayoral debate of the campaign aired on Tuesday and all anyone could talk about was Lynne Abraham collapsing on stage in the first 10 minutes of the event.
The unexpected incident has been widely interpreted as an unfortunate turn in her campaign. As journalist Patrick Kerkstra puts it, “Abraham's problem is that very few people are likely to look at her collapse in a vacuum. She is 74 years old.”
It all happened during the first question of the night, related to school funding. The camera was focused on Anthony Williams when he suddenly turned with a very concerned look and the next thing viewers saw was Abraham on the floor as fellow candidate Nelson Díaz (at the podium next to her) reached down to help her even as two other individuals raced to the stage to try to help her stand up.
Transmission was cut for several minutes as Abraham was rushed backstage to be examined by a doctor. An hour later she posted a photo on her Twitter account saying she “was feeling great” and waiting to talk to the press.
Lynne is feeling great! Waiting now to talk to the press pic.twitter.com/3SpG5O0XGV
— Lynne Abraham (@LynneForMayor) April 8, 2015
“She was determined to continue but the doctor said otherwise,” Díaz said at the press conference after the debate.
“It was shocking. She is a very strong individual, I hear she is doing well,” Kenney said. “I tried to get to her, but we were tethered to the microphones and I couldn't rip it off to get down.”
Once she joined the press, Abraham stated that “the lights went off” and that it was the first time something like that had ever happened to her. “I am embarrassed but I am quite well. I fell gracefully.”
“Campaign continues tomorrow. I have a full schedule and I am ready to debate the other candidates,” she added. This morning she was “up and running” at the Plan Philly Forum.
What else happened besides Abraham collapsing on stage?
-None of the candidates support Mayor Nutter’s 9.3 percent property tax increase to fund schools.
-All of the candidates support the plan of turning Philadelphia into an energy hub (Diaz expressed some reservations about it) except Milton Street who dismissed the question. “You can’t create an energy hub in eight years. I want to represent people with immediate problems,” Street said.
-General consensus of a need to reduce the wage tax.
Individuals questions for each candidate
Directed at Kenney: We’ve seen some of your off color Tweets about Gov. Christie and some other rants. Is that appropriate behaviour for a big city mayor?
“Twitter is Twitter, it is not the State of the Union address. It is 140 characters of nonsense. I’ve had 23 years in Council dealing with issues affecting this entire city. As mayor you have the ability to do things that you want to do to get them done and the level of frustrations hopefully goes down a little bit. We’ll deal with the problems as they come.”
Directed at Oliver: At the AL DÍA Forum you said “Police have good reason to fear Black man.” What exactly did you mean by that?
“Perhaps in the 40 seconds to respond I used words that misconstrued what I was trying to say. When you look at the Police Department you have to acknowledge that we have officers who don’t not represent the larger Police Department but still incite fear in the communities that they serve. On the other side of the equation, Black men find this a challenge and for police officers who have to manage around that, you have to acknowledge that they might be fearful as well. It was not meant to be prescriptive.”
Directed at Williams: Much of the criticism for your campaign centers around “dark money.” Are third party PAC’s helping or unduly influencing the race for mayor?
“My money is not dark, is pretty transparent because they write about it every day. I know a person on this stage (Kenney) who actually paid for ads himself. I am proud of me raising money through my own campaign. Kenney does have ads on television that are paid by dark money and no one seems to talk about who is behind that money.”
Directed at Díaz: Senator Williams accused you of stealing his idea of creating a municipal bank. Did you get that idea yourself or did you steal it?
“We been meeting with a bunch of progressive groups. Based on those meeting they talked about the Iowa Municipal Bank and how a municipal bank should be utilized, that is what we referred to. But unlike Mr. Kenney and Mr. Williams I don’t support the voucher system, and that is how they get their opportunities to sadly take money out of the school system, which essentially hurts the public schools.”
Directed at Street: After going to federal prison, why should Philadelphians trust you to follow the letter of the law as a mayor?
“Because I have a plan for the community where I live to stop the violence. I have a plan that will make the streets safe, that will create a relationship between the police and the community. It is not complicated, do you want to save your child? Or do you want to talk about Milton Street going to federal prison?”
As mayor would you want to see Police Commissioner Ramsey remained on the job?
Oliver - Inappropriate
Williams - Yes
Do you believe Philadelphia has a race relations problem?
Díaz - Yes
Oliver - Yes
Street - Yes
Williams - Yes
What grade would you give the Nutter Administration?
Díaz - Close to a D
Oliver - A-
Street - Triple F
Williams - A in ethics, A in providing stability financially