By Jan Carabeo
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania governor aren’t holding back just about a week away from Primary Day. They took the chance at Monday’s forum hosted by 900AM-WURD, the Philadelphia Tribune, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and the Philadelphia Community of Leaders to talk about racism, education and job creation.
The first question from the panel of journalists had to do with how the candidates would deal with racism. It’s a topic that’s made its way into recent debates after an attack ad aimed at front-runner Tom Wolf first aired earlier this month.
Candidate Rob McCord’s ad ties Wolf to a former York Mayor who was eventually acquitted of a murder charge in the city’s race riot trials more than a decade ago.
“That ad I ran has nothing to do with calling anyone a racist,” McCord said. “What this is about is knowing how and when to publically confront racists, race issues, structural discrimination and bigotry.”
Wolf has fired back with his own ad featuring York Mayor Kim Bracey, the first African-American elected mayor of York.
On Monday, he also defended the action he took years ago saying he convinced former York Mayor Charlie Robertson to withdraw from the race.
“In that one case, beating your chest and making loud pronouncements, I didn’t think was appropriate,” Wolf said.
Wolf’s challengers, however, say that’s what they will do if they see racism.
“This really requires a governor who is willing to be very clear that racism is not tolerated and who will speak up where and when we need to,” Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz said.
“There is no room in society for racism,” candidate Katie McGinty said. “And in a McGinty administration there will be zero tolerance for such things.”
Another hot topic during the debate was education. All four candidates say they would like to see the School Reform Commission in Philadelphia scrapped. They would also like to establish fair funding for all public schools in Pennsylvania.
The latest Franklin and Marshall College Poll finds Wolf still holds a 26-point lead over his closest challenger, although about half of those polled say they are still undecided.