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From Education To Jobs, Philly Democratic Candidates Discuss Top Issues At Mayoral Forum

By Kristen Johanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A forum for the six Democratic mayoral candidates was held at Community College of Philadelphia Thursday night -- hosted by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

CBS 3's Ukee Washington moderated the forum and asked what each candidate would keep from the Nutter administration.

Doug Oliver and Lynne Abraham said they would keep the offices of transparency. Jim Kenney said on his first day, he would sign an order to keep the inspector general position. Anthony Williams spoke about the budget:

"He's a good fiscal stewart and he balances the books and I think we would build upon that."

Nelson Diaz felt that Nutter has done a good job of keeping behavioral sciences in the community. And when Milton Street was asked what ideas or offices he would keep from the Nutter Administrations, he replied "not one."

PHOTOS: Moving Philadelphia Forward: 2015 Mayoral Candidates' Forum

Panel members asked candidates about a number of topics plaguing the city, one of which was about electing the Philadelphia School Board.

Most candidates said they would reform the way the current board stands. Kenney said he is not in favor of the SRC and Williams said he would remove it entirely. Diaz agreed:

"I will work with the governor to make sure that we end the SRC and that we establish parental control, and that mayor is the most responsible individual in making sure we fix our schools."

LISTEN: Moving Philadelphia Forward: 2015 Mayoral Candidates Forum


Oliver said the board should have a hybrid mix of parental, mayoral and state representatives:

"I like keeping the state at the table, if we expect them to be a part of our financial solution, then they should have a seat at the table."

Street called for an independent funding source for schools.

Jobs were also a hot topic Thursday as panelists asked the candidates how they would bring them to the city.

Diaz spoke about increasing city infrastructure jobs and strengthening partnerships with local universities, while Kenney explained the importance of small businesses and entrepreneurship. Abraham echoed that idea, specifying an increase in tourism and energy related jobs.

For Oliver, it was about reinventing the tax structure:

"I'd like to reduce the business tax and the wage tax with a dollar for dollar increase, and property tax - allowing more money to go to our schools. That would bring and attract jobs, by making us more competitive from a tax structure."

Street thinks locally is the way to go, having businesses in the community hire local residents. And Williams spoke not only about the energy and tech boom in the city, but also the importance of investing in small businesses:

"To grow those businesses, to hire people from those communities. People who are reentering society, would be allowed to reenter society in their neighborhoods."

And in the wake of the shooting death Walter Scott over the weekend, panelists kept things current, asking about civil rights and the police department.

Williams and Street oppose the stop-and frisk-program. Oliver said he thought it's important to have a third-party oversight when it comes to police involved shootings.

Kenney spoke about training and civil rights classes for officers:

"I think every police officer, black, white and other need to know what Selma and Birmingham mean."

Abraham added the importance of video monitoring:

"I believe that one of the best ways is body camera, dash cameras and regular cameras on posts at almost every place."

Diaz also spoke about community oversight in police shooting investigations.

The primary will be held May 19th.

You can hear the Democratic Mayoral forum during a special hour-long broadcast Friday night at 8 p.m. on KYW Newsradio. The forum can also be seen on CBS 3 Saturday at 11:35 p.m. and again Sunday at 11 a.m. on the CW Philly.

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