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Warren Bloom Sr.’s campaign for Philadelphia mayor is his first shot at the city’s top executive office, but the 70-year-old is no stranger to local politics.
Bloom has tried to run for office in Philly at least six times before. Media scrutiny of his candidacy a decade ago revealed a criminal record, including a conviction of corrupting a minor in the 1990s.
When he announced his mayoral campaign last month in Mantua, he joined a packed field of Democratic candidates. The current list of declared candidates includes five former City Council members, a former city controller, a former municipal judge, a current state representative, and a grocery store magnate.
Bloom didn’t originally intend to run for mayor this year, according to his website. But — “being a late bloomer” — he decided to do so after talking with his family, pastor, friends, and neighbors.
The website lists him as a community organizer, minister, music and media professional, block captain, public claims adjuster, volunteer, and lifelong Philly resident. He attended Overbrook High School and Cheyney University, according to his LinkedIn page.
“In my view, to run for the seat of mayor is not only a privilege, but an opportunity to make change where we need it, to continue the course of progress that our city deserves, and to advance conversations that need more hope,” Bloom writes on his campaign site.
Bloom did not return Billy Penn’s requests for comment, but there’s been a lot written about his past attempts to get elected. Here’s what you need to know.
Driving without a license, unpaid taxes, and indecent assault
Over two decades, Bloom has run once for state legislature, once for Philadelphia Traffic Court, and four times for city commissioner, Billy Penn found in a review of local news archives.
Most of his attempts have been in Democratic primaries — “Do the right thing and vote for Bloom in the spring” has been a campaign slogan. In 2010 he ran in the fall instead, mounting a general election bid for state legislature on the “Warren Bloom Party” ticket.
He didn’t make it onto the ballot for city commissioner in 2007, because an opponent challenged the validity of his petition signatures.
To secure a ballot spot this May, Bloom and the other mayoral contenders will each need to collect 1,000 signatures supporting their run. Candidates have from Feb. 14 to March 7 to circulate their petitions.
In 2013, Bloom drew first position on the ballot, placing him ahead of more than two dozen other candidates for Traffic Court judge.
The court itself was heavily criticized and attracted lots of scandals. Being a judge there paid $91,000 and had no professional prerequisites, per several Philadelphia news outlets. Lots of unknown candidates often crowded the field, so whoever’s names appeared first on the ballot were favorites to win the three open slots.
Bloom was happy about drawing the top spot — “I think fate sometimes turns the hand toward those that have put in the work,” he told the Philadelphia City Paper — but it also invited scrutiny.
When local outlets looked into Bloom’s record, they found a history of traffic violations like driving without a license, along with a log of unpaid taxes, and an indecent assault conviction.
Per court records, Bloom was found guilty in 1992 of simple assault, indecent assault, and corrupting a minor, and received at least two years of probation. When the issue came up in 2013, he told The Inquirer that the “whole situation got blown out of proportion.”
He pleaded no contest to the charges, Bloom said, because at the time he wasn’t clear on what the term meant.
“I personally did not feel I was guilty,” he told an Inquirer columnist. “But I did not want to put this teenager, who was about 16, through any more emotional stress. I took the brunt of the burden of the guilt from that happening.” (Police reports reviewed by The Inquirer stated the child, who Bloom described as his wife’s niece, was 14 at the time.)
Despite that top ballot position, Bloom didn’t win that campaign.
Three Democratic party-endorsed candidates came out on top in the primary, and Bloom came in fourth — a result he questioned the validity of. The primary results ended up being moot anyway, since the state legislature effectively abolished Traffic Court before the general election rolled around.
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A platform that covers all the bases
Bloom’s campaign website lists him as an ordained minister of the Bible Ministries Fellowship Church. It also names many issues he says he’d fight for, from public schools to labor rights to public safety.
On his GoFundMe page, Bloom mentions a “6 Point Plan for Philadelphia” that prioritizes public safety and reducing crime, education, the opioid crisis, trash disposal, economic development, and legalizing cannabis.
Per his Facebook page, Bloom supports funding and expanding community policing programs, dedicating more dollars toward after-school programs and other youth programming, and working with law enforcement and community organizations to address the root causes of gun violence.