The 2015 Philadelphia Mayoral Race Cheat Sheet

Philadelphia's mayoral primaries will be held on May 19. Democrats have six choices on the ballot come Tuesday; republicans have the choice of voting for a single candidate or ignoring this election like the last 17.

With an approximately 100 percent chance of winning the general election, the victor in next week's democratic primary will influence the city's direction following Nutter's departure in January. Below is a quick rundown of who we may be blame whenever anything goes wrong for the next four years.


All of the candidates support the boilerplate Philly positions — fund the schools, create jobs, reduce crime, support the arts — meaning they agree on virtually every issue. Rather than repeat that each candidate thinks murder is bad and that Septa should go to the Navy Yard, we'll highlight stances that may stand out from the pack.

Lynne Abraham

Lynne Abraham has been a fixture in the Philadelphia legal and political circuits for more ​​than 40 years. In 1991 she became the city's first female district attorney, a role she held until 2010, making her Philadelphia's longest-serving DA. Prior to that, Abraham was a municipal court judge and was described by Frank Rizzo as "the best man we've got" before sexism had been discovered by science.

Positions: Improve housing and government services for veterans and senior citizens; give L&I more staff, because that's a thing everyone is begging for this year.

Pros: Decades of experience in Philadelphia politics; national profile and name recognition.

Cons: Decades of experience in Philadelphia politics; has been accused of racial bias; that time she passed out on live TV which effectively killed her chances.

Nelson Diaz

A former judge and city solicitor currently work as a lawyer, Nelson Diaz has experience in both the public and private sectors. In 1993 he was appointed as the general counsel of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by President Clinton, where he spearheaded efforts to increase affordable housing development. Diaz also worked with Walter Mondale in support of the Bilingual Education Act.

Positions: Expand affordable housing and reevaluate the controversial Actual Value Initiative; eliminate "stop and frisk" police procedures, implement a police advisory board and support body cameras; improve the city government's ethics, which is just too cute.

Pros: Local and national experience; strong base in Philadelphia's Puerto Rican community; worked for Bill Clinton; knowing Bill Clinton is awesome; can maybe get Bill Clinton to be mayor?

Cons: "Who?"; low profile outside of his base.

Jim Kenney

James F. Kenney is a career politician, working as a member of the Philadelphia City Council from 1992 to 2015. Over those 23 years, Kenny served as chairman of the Committee on Labor & Civil Service, the Committee on Law & Government and the Committee on Environment. He has been a long-time supporter of the LGBT community and introduced the city's first hate crime legislation following the September 2014 attack on a gay couple in Center City. Kenney likes to remind you that he is from South Philly. Constantly.

Positions: Equal benefits for same sex partners; increase the city's green spaces; strong supporter of the city's labor unions; hates Chick-fil-A.

Pros: Decades of experience in Philadelphia politics; strong base support; actually accomplished things in City Council.

Cons: Decades of experience in Philadelphia politics; might be a little too close with the unions; spending 23 years on Philadelphia City Council may cause brain damage.

Doug Oliver

Doug Oliver is an advertising and communications executive, having worked for local and national organizations including PECO and Pfizer. He served as the press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare under Governor Rendell and for the City of Philadelphia under Mayor Nutter. Oliver currently works as the vice president of marketing and corporate communications for PGW, which is doing a bang-up job with its reputation in the city.

Positions: Strong focus on education funding and reform; capitalize on natural gas assets, which certainly is in no way related to his role as VP of PGW.

Pros: Experience in City Hall and with Harrisburg.

Cons: Was a registered republican until switching to run for mayor in December 2014; no non-PR political experience; works for one of the most hated organizations in Philadelphia (aside from Comcast and PECO and the Mummers).

Milton Street (No website. Really.)​​

​​A one-time member of both state legislative houses, Thomas Milton Street served as a representative from 1979 to 1980 and as a senator from 1981 to 1984. The older brother of former Philadelphia mayor John Street, he... OK, listen, you aren't taking this one seriously, right? Good.

Positions: Probably something about hot dogs or duck boats.

Pros: Four years of bad "Uncle Milty" jokes; technically not a felon.

Cons: Type "Milton Street" into Google. Go ahead.

Anthony Hardy Williams

The son of former Pennsylvania State Senator Hardy Williams, Anthony Hardy Williams followed his father into politics, becoming a member of the state senate in 1998. He is the chairman of the State Government Committee and has served as the Democratic Whip since 2011. Williams is the founder of the Hardy Williams Charter School in West Philadelphia.

Positions: Increase funding for public education; eliminate "stop and frisk"; expand the Gun Violence Taskforce, which he helped create in 2005; would fire Police Commissioner Ramsey if elected.

Pros: Strong base support; experience working with Harrisburg.

Cons: Funded by the Main Line-iest group of billionaires ever; affiliation with the Hardy Williams Charter School may cause conflicts of interest.


The obvious choice is to reelect Mayor Nutter, but this is Philadelphia and we can't have nice things. Barring any last-minute shakeups, the election will likely come down to Kenney or Williams. There is, however, an alternative:


Born and raised in Philadelphia, Ahmir Khalib "Questlove" Thompson is the drummer and co-founder of The Roots. In addition to his work as a musician, DJ and producer, Questlove is a strong support of his hometown and the arts. He can be seen nightly on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which is in New York, but we'll forgive him.

Positions: Laid back.

Pros: Not a politician; keeps The Roots Picnic, one of the most popular annual music festivals, in Philadelphia; everything on his Instagram; have you listened to Phrenology?

Cons: Not actually running for mayor.

It's the only choice. On May 19, write in #Questlove4mayor.

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