Anthony H. Williams' bid to become Philadelphia Mayor
State Sen. Williams cites a static 26 percent poverty rate and the inability of the Kenney administration to fully understand communities of color in Philadelphia as reasons why he's challenging the Mayor in the Democratic primary election on May 21.
Since the adoption of the city’s current charter in 1951, no incumbent mayor seeking re-election has ever been defeated — but State Sen. Anthony Williams said he embraces his underdog status.
The candidate cites the Kenney administration’s failure to reduce the city’s 26 percent poverty rate as a primary reason for his decision to run, which was also influenced by a failing public school system, gentrification caused by a “broken” real estate assessment process, and an increase in homicides.
“There should be no place in America,” said Williams, “that the homicide rate is what it is in Philadelphia.”
The state senator told AL DÍA that the 351 homicides that happened in the city last year are a crisis of significant proportion, and that if he is elected mayor, he would declare an emergency.
According to Williams, any less of a response is evidence that “we do not consider those lives as important as the lives that we consider in Parkland, FL, or the ones that, unfortunately, were lost in the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh.”
“We should not be a city that allows for a body count to occur everyday and not recognize that that’s somebody’s mother, brother, child, or uncle,” the state senator said.
Williams expressed a deep frustration with what he defined as the mayor’s inability to truly understand and empower communities of color in Philadelphia.
When asked what more should be done to help Latino business owners in the city, the candidate quickly asserted, “A lot more.”
“The mayor is very good at placating people,” Williams continued. “He pats people on the back as if they’re like, for lack of a better term, a pet. He’s very patronizing and he doesn’t realize that.”
While Kenney expressed personal admiration for the experience of Latino immigrants in Philadelphia during his recent interview with AL DÍA, Williams countered, “What the heck are you doing about it?”
“The Latino community of Philadelphia is part of that black and brown community that is in poverty,” he continued.
Williams said that Latino entrepreneurs are “not supported a penny from the city.”
“How about cleaning up some of those business corridors that are prominent within the Latino community?” he suggested. “How about supporting those businesses with a municipal bank?”
The candidate pointed out that city government places deposits in commercial banks every day and suggested the establishment of a municipal lending system so that small business owners can continue to do the work and grow.
He emphasized that small grants of $50,000 could help Latino-owned businesses in the Philadelphia prosper beyond their limits.
Williams also noted that he would prioritize increasing safety in Latino neighborhoods of the city and said that Mayor Kenney should be “in the communities” themselves more frequently, instead of praising the history and the “cosmetic issues.”
Senator Williams’ criticisms amount to a call for a mayor who will be more present, and aware, of the realities that all Philadelphians face throughout the city.