Here Are the Burning Questions Each Viable Philly Mayoral Candidate Needs to Answer

Throughout the mayoral campaign, the candidates have left us with more questions than answers. In the final month before the primary election, hopefully they’ll fix that.

Philly mayoral candidates

Philly mayoral candidates still have some questions to answer before the primary.

It’s officially less than a month before the May 16th Democratic primary, and things are finally heating up. From candidates exposing their opponents taking private meetings with billionaires to others making cereal jokes — the barbs have been traded and the gloves are off. Such recent debates have led to some well-needed jousting that’s only going to hopefully increase in the days to come (Shameless plug: I’m hosting a Philly mayoral candidates forum that’s airing on CBS3 next Tuesday, April 25th, at 7 p.m.).

As much as I can appreciate the rise in liveliness that these debates and forums have garnered, I’m still left with more to ponder. I think we all get it now: Public safety is the top priority to voters and all of them plan to be tougher on crime. Yes, we all know that on Day 1, each candidate plans to do a thousand things that they most likely won’t do until their second term. They all think the current mayor isn’t doing a good job and they can do better.

But what about their personal hurdles? What about their character as a candidate? So much of the questions asked of mayoral candidates has been rooted in policies and platforms. While that’s an important aspect in weighing which person to vote for, it’s not the only thing to consider in a still-crowded race. What are their morals and ethics? Can they tell me a little more about how they make decisions?

At a time when it’s easy for candidates to piggyback and agree with others on the debate stage, I’d like things to get a little more personal and specific. Here are the burning questions that are still up in the air for the six viable Democratic mayoral candidates campaigning for our still-undecided vote.

Amen Brown

At 35 years old, Brown is the youngest candidate running for the city’s top job. Alongside his campaign finance woes and past legal controversies, it’s still astounding that he’s been able to remain active in the field. But with roughly only two and a half years in the state House, how does he make the case to voters that he’s ready to run a major American city that’s deeply impacted with problems that appear to rise above his level of experience?

Jeff Brown

Although he has no prior elected office experience, Brown has been able to generate the kind of buzz and campaign revenue that mirrors that of longtime statesmen. But such momentum has been overshadowed by endless shortcomings and even graver consequences. Next week, his campaign will be the subject of a hearing regarding a Philadelphia Board of Ethics investigation into allegations that he coordinated with For a Better Philadelphia, a super PAC that’s been backing his campaign. Such a bombshell has caused an already wary public to question the role of “dark money” during this mayoral campaign. While his other opponents with notable super PAC support (Cherelle Parker, Rebecca Rhynhart and Helen Gym) have already disclosed their donors, Brown has not. So, what will it take for Brown to simply release the names of the dark money donors backing his campaign?

Allan Domb

He’s the wealthiest candidate in the race, and that’s not an insult. Domb has a decades-long career building a real estate empire, one that’s evolved into a reputable career in public service. But in a competitive race that could elect the first-ever woman mayor in Philadelphia, how does Domb make the case to voters to elect another white guy to be the city’s 100th mayor, especially when he’ll still be influential without the title?

Helen Gym

There’s no question of how popular Gym has gotten over the years. The highest vote-getter in the last city-council election cycle hasn’t missed a beat in raising the profile of the local progressive movement. But throughout her campaign, some of her actions have appeared to contradict her stances. Like earlier this year, when she condemned the Union League for hosting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and then had to apologize after it was later revealed that she attended an event there the following week. Last week during a televised candidates debate, Gym said that when she met with 76ers owner David Adelman the two of them “didn’t discuss anything,” then she later mentioned that she told him she was not in favor of public subsidies for arena projects. To fully clear up the misconceptions, Gym should come clean on exactly what propelled her to go back to the Union League in spite of the controversy, and what exactly was the nature of the meeting with Adelman.

Cherelle Parker

As a former State Representative and City Councilperson, Parker is one of the most recognizable Black women in local politics. Her notable affiliation with the influential Northwest Coalition, backing from the Building Trades, and massive endorsements from several longtime elected officials, has positioned her as the establishment candidate in this race. But during a time when voters are wanting a new vision for the city, how does Parker make the case to voters that it’s not going to be “Philly politics as usual” if she’s elected?

Rebecca Rhynhart

There’s no doubt that Rhynhart is a troubleshooter on all that’s happening in municipal government. As City Controller, she made headlines for leading bold investigations into issues like police spending, COVID, Black Lives Matter protests and more. While she has done a fine job spotting what needs improvement in the city, the question still remains on how she’ll make the case to voters that she’s not just an expert on problems but a doer in trying to solve them.