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Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.

Every Friday from now until the primary (that’s May 19!) we’ll take a look at the past week to update you on who’s up, who’s down and what you absolutely need to know about the election.

This week was all about the Next Great City mayoral debate and how, of course, no one really stood out or flopped when talking about environmentalism, affordable housing and biking. Also, Tony Williams unveiled his education plan and (surprise!) the critics pretty much hated it. Let’s get into this week’s recap.

(Want up-to-the-minute updates on the mayor’s race as it evolves? Follow our story, and we’ll send you an email when news happens.)

Stock Watch

Lynne Abraham 
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Lynne Abraham appeared at this week’s Next Great City forum and did fine — nothing wrong, but nothing spectacular. She had a few particularly strong answers with regard to environmental issues. But at this point, Abraham is just trying to change her image. She’s done a good job coming across as approachable in these debates, and she’s really just trying to get across that she is more than just an ex-DA. And people are starting to believe her.

Nelson Diaz 
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Give Nelson Diaz some debate cred here: The guy knows how to command a room. But Diaz showed this week that his strengths emerge when he talks education. He’s really the only candidate to tap into parents’ aversion to the School Reform Commission, and has taken a largely progressive stance on education. It was also Diaz’s turn in the Philly Mag spotlight this week. He got his long Q&A, and is trying to solidify himself as “a progressive reformer.”

Jim Kenney 
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Kenney came up with some ideas at Tuesday’s debate, and he’s clearly one of the more creative candidates. Among his plans? Build houses out of storage units and partner food trucks with public schools for students’ lunches. He also gets points for maybe being the first person ever to wear a suit at the Tattooed Mom. AND The Inquirer published a nice profile of Kenney this week, describing him as a guy who’s more than just pot and Twitter. Phew. (YOGA PHOTO?)

Doug Oliver 
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If you’re following this race in the slightest, you probably know that Doug Oliver is going for the millennial vote. Yes, he’s 40 years old and the youngest candidate by far. But he’s the only candidate who, on Tuesday, voluntarily brought up millennials and what they mean to the City of the Philadelphia. During his final thoughts/ closing statement portion, he said that “we’re kidding ourselves” if we think the city can thrive without finding a way to keep young professionals in the city. He’s appealing to young voters; now he just needs to get them to vote.

Milton Street 
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T. Milton Street must have been too busy or something to show up at the Next Great City mayoral forum on Tuesday night. He’s basically been MIA for the last week. Maybe he’s just really busy collecting signatures for next week’s deadline?

Anthony Williams 
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Anthony Williams had arguably the busiest week of anyone. He was a bit late for the Next Great City forum on Tuesday because he had to, ya know, work in Harrisburg at his day job and do the state budget thing all day. He performed well during the debate, was pretty animated and had clear stances on everything thrown at him. But probably more importantly for Williams: This week he unveiled of his education plan. More on that later. One of his staffers wrote up a piece this week for Technically Philly about how the candidate would use open data in City Hall. And he also got his long profile in The Inquirer — a piece that tried to dispel ideas that Williams is a one-trick (pro-charter) pony.

Biggest news

The Next Great City debate on Tuesday had city political wonks chatting, and it’s a good thing these events don’t name a winner — no one really pulled ahead or fell behind. We learned about each candidates’ plans for conservation, affordable housing and biking. We also learned some random facts about them (Kenney reads poetry? Oliver had two hip replacements?) and which mayor they admire the most. Here’s a recap of the event. 

Best tweet

This is a photo of mayoral candidate Jim Kenney dressed as Cat in the Hat:

#Breaking: Philadelphia mayoral candidate @JimFKenney admits he would eat green eggs and ham http://t.co/Y1UOELvgebpic.twitter.com/c9Oc7UbYSV

— NinetyNine (@MayorNinetyNine) March 2, 2015

Annnnd meet Bendy Kenney

.@MayorNinetyNine @hollyotterbein @CitifiedPHL #namaste pic.twitter.com/9f5f7gfkOR

— Lauren Hitt (@LaurHitt) March 4, 2015

Who messed up

Not showing up for a mayoral forum is bad look. Ahem, Milton.

What people are pissed about

Anthony Williams has been knocked many a time for 1. his support of charter schools and 2. his lack of a real education plan. No one can claim he doesn’t have a plan anymore, because this week he unveiled his way of bringing in an additional $200 million to the school system in a year by supporting a bill that would increase the city’s property tax allocation. But Williams is still drawing frontrunner fire — obviously critics hated his plan, saying the change would take needed cash away from other city services.

Best insult

And coming off of the Tony-Williams-education debacle, Jim Kenney came out strong against against the plan with the week’s best insult:

“Once again, Tony Williams’ education proposals are more concerned with appeasing the pro-voucher, Main Line billionaires who fund his campaign than with helping our public school students and teachers.” Ouch.


Lynne Abraham vs. the plastic bag lobby! At this week’s debate, Abraham said she’d legislate a small fee for plastic bag use at stores that’d hopefully force people to use reusable bags. When asked how she would go up against the retail lobby, she replied, “I’ll take on anybody, what difference does it make?”

Cool story

The millennial vote really *could* actually matter… if millennials voted. In this Inquirer piece, reporter Chris Brennan looks at the voting bloc and how leaders and candidates are trying to appeal to them. Speaking of millennials: my Billy Penn colleague Mark Dent talked this week to Young Involved Philadelphia President Nick Marzano about candidates appealing to young voters and how YIP will get out the vote. Check that out here.


Daily News cartoonist Signe Wilkinson sketched the mayoral candidates during their appearance at the Next Great City forum on Tuesday. Come for the cool sketches, stay for the references to Lynne Abraham’s Winston Churchillian chin.

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.