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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

St. Joe’s holds Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Debate

Students pose questions about their city 

A debate for the Democratic Primary of the Philadelphia Mayoral race was held at Saint Joseph’s University on April 23.

The debate was hosted by Fox29 News and held in the Wolfington Teletorium in Mandeville Hall. It featured candidates Lynne Abraham, Nelson Diaz, Anthony Hardy Williams, James Kenney, Milton Street, and Doug Oliver.

The candidates were asked six rounds of questions, including two questions asked by St. Joe’s students. There was also a lightning round of questions at the end of the debate as well as one additional question asked by a St. Joe’s student.

Questions focused on topics from reviews of police shootings, to Philadelphia’s economy, to housing and environmental issues.

Each candidate was given a limited amount of time to respond to each question.

Topics largely debated were the issues of the public school system of Philadelphia, tax increases, and how to bring a productive workforce back to the city.

When debating the city’s litter issue, candidate Williams responded, “We are in Filthadelphia.”

During the lightning round, the candidates were given a statement or question and were asked to answer or respond in one or two words. Questions revolved around local topics such as Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelley and forms of public transportation.

One specific lightning round question was, “Should marijuana be legalized in Philadelphia?” When asked to respond, candidate Diaz replied, “I want some, yes.”

A few St. Joe’s political science students in the audience were introduced to the crowd and debate contenders, then candidates were given the opportunity to give closing remarks.

Said candidate Oliver, “I do not come from the mayor-manufacturing farm…I bring a different perspective.”

Candidate Diaz had a slightly more rousing remark, saying, “If you stand with me I will stand with you and fight for you every day.”

When asked about his general thoughts on the debate, Randall Miller, Ph.D., professor of history, said, “The debate went uncommonly well…[it] featured the first real sparring matches among the candidates about past statements and positions. There was a certain feistiness that came with the responses. A St. Joe’s student got the candidates off-script by asking how to ‘incentivize’ the business climate in the city, which put the candidates in a position of having to be more original and [give] creative responses.”

When asked what he thought about the lightning round of questions, Miller replied, “Although it seemed a little goofy to some people, the move had the effect of humanizing the candidates.”

According to Lisa Baglione, Ph.D., professor and chair of the political science department, the debate was brought to campus by Fox29, who contacted the university and asked to use Saint Joseph’s campus as a location.

In order to choose students to pose questions to the candidates, Baglione said that the opportunity was made known to all political science students and then those that were interested submitted their proposed question via email. It was from the email responses that the student questioners were chosen.

Miller expressed that the debate was a great showcasing opportunity for St. Joe’s and remarked that now the university can use it to say, “We have experience.”

Miller also felt that the debate really highlighted the university’s students. “The debate showed the genius of Saint Joseph’s students in their questions for the candidates and description of themselves,” said Miller. “All in all, it was a worthwhile afternoon for everyone.”

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