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Central High Students' Grilling of Philadelphia Mayoral Candidates Carried Live on Cable TV

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The seven announced candidates for mayor of Philadelphia faced tough questioning today from students of Central High School, during a question-and-answer forum this morning at the school.

The questions, from Central's Class 274, covered a wide variety of issues.  Among them: underfunded city pensions, selling PGW, legalizing marijuana, stop-and-frisk, and charter schools.

How did the candidates do?  Central senior Christine Phan says we'll know on May 19th, primary election day.

"The next upcoming months will definitely be the true testament of whether or not they answered our questions," she said.

"I feel that they were very caught off-guard with us," noted senior Jamie Atwater-Chiapetta.  "I feel like they didn't think we were going to ask the kinds of questions we did."

Things got a little testy when, answering a question about pay-to-play politics, Milton Street wanted Jim Kenney to disavow TV ads an advocacy group is running on Kenney's behalf.

"Why don't he contact that 527 that's running all those ads for him now, and tell them, 'I don't accept those'?" Street wondered aloud.


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(Milton Street. Image from PCNTV)


"I'm not allowed to contact them," Kenney snapped back.  "By law, I'm not allowed to contact them."

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(Jim Kenney, at a March 31st mayoral forum at Central High School. Image from PCNTV)


On education, candidate Nelson Diaz said he's running because not all schools are as accomplished as Central.

"Nine out of ten children in this city don't have the quality school that you have," he told the students.

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(Nelson Diaz. Image from PCNTV)


Doug Oliver drew ooohs with a Kennedyesque line: "No longer should you be involved in government because you need government.  The question now is, will you get involved in government because government needs you?"

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(Doug Oliver. Image from PCNTV)


Lynne Abraham said keeping millennials in the city is key.

"We want you to stay in Philadelphia and help it become this great metropolis," she told them.

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(Lynne Abraham. Image from PCNTV)


Anthony Hardy Williams said he wanted to unite Philadelphia.

"We divide this city on this versus that -- black versus white, straight versus LGBT, type of school versus another type of school," he said.


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(Anthony Williams, at a mayoral candidates' forum on March 31st, at Central High School. Image from PCNTV)


Melissa Murray Bailey, the only Republican running for mayor, said she would consider selling PGW.

"People's pensions are at risk.  Which means their financial future is at risk," she said.


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Melissa Murray Bailey. Image from PCNTV)


The forum was co-sponsored by the Committee of Seventy and was carried on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

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