By Chris May

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – CBS 3 Eyewitness News spoke with Philadelphia mayoral candidate Nelson Diaz.

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Nelson Diaz is a familiar face around Philadelphia.

He’s called the city home for 45 years. And now he hopes to transform it.

“We can make every school in this city available to kids so everybody can have a quality education,” said Diaz.

The foundation of his campaign is a desire to improve public education.

He believes that’s the solution to the city’s biggest problems.

(May:) “Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of poverty of any large city in America. How can you change that as Mayor?”

“Everything stems from education. Education is the only equalizer in a person’s life. Why do I know that? Because that’s how I got into the middle class,” he said.

Raised in a Harlem housing project he was the first Puerto Rican to earn a law degree from Temple.

He worked as a Special Assistant to Vice President Mondale and under President Clinton as General Counsel for Housing and Urban Development.

But his passion was for Philadelphia where he served a dozen years as a Common Pleas Court Judge.

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“I believe that the police and the community should know each other,” he said.

Unlike his mayoral rival Anthony Williams, Diaz is open to keeping Charles Ramsey as Police Commissioner.

“If he decided to work with me on community policing I would welcome the opportunity to keep him on,” he said.

But he also wants reforms.

Reducing Philadelphia’s wage and business taxes which he calls regressive by shifting the tax burden on to commercial real estate.

And he wants new sources of revenue like allowing Center City bars to stay open later at night.

New money he says will lead to new jobs and a better Philadelphia.

“It’s about what’s best for the city. And what’s best for the educational opportunities of our kids. That’s why I’m doing it,” he said.

He’s also doing it to make history — to blaze a trail to City Hall.

(May:) “You have a chance to be the city’s first elected Latino Mayor. What would that mean to you?”

“I’m very proud of it. But we all have to know that we’re Americans. And as Americans we’re going to try to make this city and this country better than it was before,” he said.

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