For mayoral candidate and current State Sen. Anthony Williams, the day started at 6 a.m. with a field team meeting in North Philly. Then he was off to a mayoral forum near Independence Mall. Then to a TV interview, then to a high school for a debate on gun control, then to a fundraiser in Center City, then to another fundraiser in Jersey and then to a final candidate forum until nearly 10 p.m.

And that was just a random Wednesday in April for one mayoral candidate. The next day would start again at 8:30 a.m. with yet another fundraiser.

Running for public office of course takes a large amount of time and effort — so much so that five out of the six candidates don’t have current jobs in order to focus on their campaigns. But this year has felt different than other primaries, and some campaigns have quietly expressed that the sheer volume of mayoral forums and debates hosted by every group, association and media organization that wants one has become overwhelming.

In fact, a rough calculation shows the candidates traveled something like 100 miles around the city over this two-week span — and this doesn’t include Williams’ trip(s) to Harrisburg, or whatever Milton Street is up to.

Take this week for example. No less than 12 candidate debates and forums are scheduled, with 10 occurring in one 60-hour period. For context, Philadelphia mayoral candidates have more than half as many forums in four days as the Republican National Convention is allowing their presidential candidates to do over the course of the entire campaign.

For many of these forums, candidates are asked to answer sometimes 10-page long questionnaires ahead of time and study up on exactly what that one group values.

“These are all worthy groups and causes. No one should feel sorry for any of the candidates,” said Barry Caro, a spokesman for Nelson Diaz’s campaign. “It’s a tough job, but the number and structure of these forums is making it much more difficult to actually get decent answers and find out anything about what separates the candidates. We had deeper and longer substantive discussions about our goals for city policy at the Girard stop on the MFL.”

Philadelphia political consultant Larry Ceisler said he the amount of forums and events isn’t totally out of the ordinary, noting that these types of schedules for candidates really only happens every eight years — you just don’t see the same interest when an incumbent is running for re-election.

But he did say that some city groups and organizations hold forums now that they might not have eight or 16 years ago, simply because the need wasn’t there.

“You have all these different types of groups, and they want the mayoral candidates to spend an hour talking about their issues not the general issues,” Ceisler said. “Eight years ago, there might not have been a tech one. So things change. They might not have had one on an energy hub because we didn’t have that eight years ago.”

Billy Penn asked each candidate for their public schedules for the past two weeks — the weeks of April 6 and April 13 — and each of the Democratic candidates provided some form of a schedule, save for T. Milton Street who didn’t get back to us.

Here’s a look at where they went. For brevity’s sake, we included public appearances and events. It’s worth noting that things like interviews, fundraisers and more take up a great deal of time in addition to what’s listed here.


Here’s a look at the mayoral forums where all candidates were invited to attend. Some forums overlap, so see their individual schedules below for how they prioritized:

And here’s a map of the places where the forums and debates were held over the two weeks:

Lynne Abraham

(Abraham’s campaign provided schedules for April 8 to 12 and April 15 to 17 and her campaign characterized it as “a sampling.”)

Here’s a look at what her public calendar looked like:

Nelson Diaz

Here’s a look at what his calendar looked like:

Jim Kenney

Here’s a look at what his calendar looked like:

Doug Oliver

Here’s a look at what his calendar looked like:

Anthony Williams

Here’s a look at what his calendar looked like:

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