The mayoral policy roundup
With 55 days until the May primary, the mayoral candidates look forward to at least a dozen more debates. Each of the six Democratic candidates has spoken formally and informally about their vision for the city and the issues closest to them. But it’s the policy papers that solidify each runner’s agenda and hold them accountable to their ideas both before and after the election.
What is a policy paper?
While they involve research, policy papers are written for a non-academic audience and offer precise recommendations for policy makers. Strictly speaking, policy papers differ from policy points. The latter a candidate might vocalize or bullet-point in varying depths. But by nature, policy papers elaborate on the bullet points and offer persuasive solutions.
So here’s a run-down of which candidates have policy papers and who drafted them.
While not “policy papers” per se, Doug Oliver, former Nutter spokesman and PGW communications chief, was one of the first to publish some policy points. The most comprehensive one by some stretch is his approach to education. His job creation policy, however, makes only conversational suggestions about promoting small business, and does not address specific legislative or executive goals. Oliver’s campaign team, however, announced that they will unveil the first official policy paper Wednesday on technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. And next week they will release an expanded version of the education plan as well as an ethics policy.
Campaign Spokesman Mustafa Rashed told AL DÍA that there is one person on the Oliver policy advisor board: Perri Higgins, a Wharton alum who founded Evolve Advisors.
Former Court of Common Pleas Judge Nelson Diaz has released seven policy papers, more than any other candidate as of today. Among these is a framework for social justice policies and equitable community development, an economic development plan, and a public safety initiative. His education policy paper includes a plan to abolish the School Reform Commission (SRC), and he has another one on the funding crisis. And for the seventh, Diaz’s plan for an ethical and functioning city government. While not all points are equally fine-tuned, each policy paper includes direct courses of legislative and executive action.
Barry Caro, Diaz’s communications director, said that they have not disclosed an official list of policy creators, but rather they are “...being advised by a broad group of stakeholders across Philadelphia about these issues, and have gotten feedback from a number of influential policymakers about our proposals.” For example, President of the Center City District Paul Levy helped inform some of their economic development decisions.
On Monday former City Councilman Jim Kenney released a paper on ethical government, his campaign’s first. Communication Director Lauren Hitt says they will release three more of a similarly comprehensive level — education next week, then one on jobs and economy, and then one on public safety. The gist of what to expect already appears in shorter form on Kenney’s website. Hitt said they may publish some smaller issue-specific papers as well.
On another note, Kenney is the only candidate to publicly disclose the names of his entire policy board, though Citified reported that at least one individual, Sister Mary Scullion of Project HOME said that she was asked for advice from the Kenney camp, and was not on his board in any official capacity.
To date, Senator Anthony Williams’ has published one policy paper on funding the education crisis. Albert Butler, the campaign communications director, told AL DÍA that he can’t disclose when the remaining platforms will be released; however, those paying close attention to the race can expect a number of policies “in the tens.” That’s double digits. Butler added that “...some are going to be broader and some are going to be on specific issues.” The Williams campaign did not return our request to disclose the names of those on their policy board.
Despite her role as the former district attorney, Lynne Abraham is virtually unpublished when it comes to her mayoral policies. “It’s been a work in progress over the last several weeks,” said Jo Ann Butler, Abraham’s campaign spokesperson. As with Williams, we can also expect policy papers in the double digits over the next few weeks, according to Butler. To her knowledge, there are no plans to publish the names of the policy advisors, and we did not receive a definitive yes or no.
Former Senator Milton Street’s campaign team still doesn’t have a website. They have not released any policy information to our knowledge and did not return our calls for comment.