Philly’s Mayoral Candidates Pretty Much Cool With Wolf’s Ouster of Green

One jokes that Wolf "should fire everyone and get a new team."

Candidate Conversations

From L to R: Democratic mayoral candidates Nelson Diaz, Doug Oliver, Lynne Abraham, Anthony Williams and Jim Kenney.

[Updated at 6 p.m. to include Lynne Abraham’s comments.]

Most of Philadelphia’s Democratic mayoral candidates either agree with Gov. Tom Wolf‘s shocking decision this week to remove Bill Green as chairman of the city’s School Reform Commission, or believe that it was his choice to make. After Green defied Wolf’s call to approve no new charter schools, Wolf tapped Marjorie Neff, a former school principal, to be the new head of the SRC.

None of the candidates polled said they outright disagree with Wolf’s move. Green said it may be illegal, and he is planning to challenge Wolf’s decision in court.

Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for former Councilman Jim Kenney, said the mayoral contender told reporters at a campaign event today that “he supported Gov. Wolf’s decision and thought it was excellent that we had a veteran educator leading the SRC.”

Angela Griffin, a spokeswoman for former state Sen. Milton Street, who is expected to officially launch his campaign this week, said, “Street fully supports the governor’s decision.” Street is calling for “no more charters, and the reason why is quality education should be for everyone across the board.”

Former city solicitor Nelson Diaz said in a statement, “I agree with Gov. Wolf that we need a new direction for Philadelphia’s schools. This latest crisis is another reminder that the SRC itself is the source of much of the dysfunction of our school district. This unwieldy and unworkable management structure doesn’t work.”

Kenney, Street and Diaz have been among the most ardent supporters of traditional public education in the mayor’s race.

Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham also came out in support of Wolf’s decision, saying in a statement that it “makes sense for the governor to have leadership on the [SRC] that is accountable to him.

“Marjorie Neff is a superb choice to succeed Bill Green as chair of the [SRC],” said Abraham. “She notably opposed the approval of any new charter schools, which was in keeping with my call for a moratorium on any new charter schools until full, fair funding is secured for our public schools.”

State Sen. Anthony Williams, who has received campaign contributions from advocates for charter schools and vouchers, falls under the “it’s-Wolf’s-choice” camp. He said in a statement, “It’s the governor’s call. I do hope whoever sits on the SRC doesn’t think about district public schools and charter public schools as opponents, and looks for ways to help all schools. That begins with having a weighted fair funding formula and reinstating charter reimbursement to provide revenue to the district.”

Juan Rodriguez, the man who may or may not have kicked off his mayoral campaign at a strip club, first said, “I think [Wolf] should fire everyone and get a new team.” When asked how that would be possible, given that under state law SRC members can only be removed from office before the end of their terms for official wrongdoing, Rodriguez said, “I apologize, I was teasing a bit with my previous comment. That is Tom Wolf’s decision, it’s his time to shine. We’ll see how it goes.”

Mustafa Rashed, a spokesman for former Philadelphia Gas Works executive Doug Oliver, said, “Being unfamiliar with Gov. Wolf’s thought process or other considerations, it would be imprudent for Doug to comment on his decision at this time.”

Rev. Keith Goodman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.