PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s little more than one week to go in the Democratic race for Philadelphia mayor, and the gloves came off on Monday night. The challengers went on the attack against incumbent Jim Kenney in their only televised debate.
Gun violence seems to have a strong grip on the city and that was one of the major topics debated Monday, along with education and the opioid epidemic.
All three Democratic candidates are hoping to be the next mayor of Philadelphia ahead of the upcoming primary election. Kenney, Pennsylvania state senator Anthony Williams and former city controller Alan Butkovitz squared off on the issues that matter most to Philadelphians, starting with the city’s growing homicide rate.
“We are working to get these numbers down. One of the problems that we have, frankly, is this state is a crazy gun state,” Kenney said.
“First of all, we have to stop stop-and-frisk so that we can reduce that war between the police and the community,” Butkovitz said. “Secondly, we need to be putting police task force prioritizing on locating gun houses, where I understand you can rent a gun for an hour.”
“We need to work with the police department to put more folks on a much more diversified population. We need to have a program that represents behavioral health, job training, etc.” Williams said.
It’s not just gun violence that’s wreaking havoc on Philadelphia; so is the opioid epidemic.”
“If we can get them into a place that’s secure, and if they do overdose, we can bring them back to life and also get them to a place where they can get the services that they need,” Kenney said.
Kenny is for the proposed safe-injection sites, but both Sen. Williams and Butkovitz believe there’s a better alternative.
“Those folks who are injecting in a safe-injection site — I’m not sure how you safely inject heroin any place in America — I’m not sure how you can legally do it without the federal government shutting it down,” Williams said.
“Safe-injection sites is an oxymoron. There is no way that you can safely inject heroin, particularly fentanyl-contaminated heroin without killing yourself eventually,” Butkovitz said.
Sparks flew as Kenney and Butkovitz got into a heated discussion about their track records.
“Mr. Butkovitz was fired by the voters because he didn’t do his job,” Kenney said, “he was supposed to audit every department, ever year and he didn’t do that.”
“I lost my job because I did do my job,” Butkovitz replied. “I don’t act like Mayor Kenney and ask permission of John Dougherty or the powers that be before I investigate something.”
The voters will decide how they fared and have the last say on May 21.
The candidates all agreed that there should be more funding for public schools, and they also agreed on allowing Philadelphia to be a sanctuary city.