They're usually limited to sound bites and quick debate answers but here are the written responses to five questions, loosely centered on small business and job growth, posed to the mayoral candidates by the Chamber of Commerce.
Answers came in from former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, former city spokesman Doug Oliver, former Administrative Judge Nelson Diaz, former City Councilman Jim Kenney and state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
The candidates overlapped in promises and ideas, including pressuring Harrisburg for fair school funding, pledges to reform business taxes and a commitment to pre-k.
On a first question about how many jobs they would create, all but Oliver declined to give an actual number, saying it's impossible to predict. Oliver said he'd aim to duplicate the progress made under Nutter's administration when 4,000 jobs were created in Philadelphia and 10,000 more Philadelphians found work. Oliver said he hoped to hit the same numbers in two years instead of four.
Abraham had some of the most specific answers. She said she would appoint a Commerce Director whose sole mission would be to bring business to the city. She also would appoint a committee of stakeholders to come up with business tax reform ideas and seek approval from Harrisburg for a 20-year tax abatement.
On education, Abraham said she'd devote $20 million in city funds to the governor's pre-k initiative and direct the Department of Human Services to increase the number of caseworkers from ten to forty to address absenteeism in the schools.
Diaz said the city needs to focus on job growth outside of Center and University City. He suggested community colleges become partners in providing business skills to residents.
Doug Oliver (who answered his questions in written and video form) wants to streamline the city's licensing requirements and tax forms to make entering Philadelphia's business sector easier. In terms of an efficient budget, he said he's in favor of selling municipal assets to generate one-time money to apply to the pension system and free up funds.
Williams said he wants to use data to evaluate how current programs in the city are working and downsize those that are not. He said he'd expand prisoner re-entry programs and work with Harrisburg to decouple commercial and residential property tax rates so he could set the commercial rate 15 percent higher.
Kenney said he wants to simplify access to capital for small businesses by providing guidance on the dozen or so programs available at the city, state and federal level. He said making those resources available across different languages is a "top priority" to help immigrant-owned small businesses.
Here is the link to read each candidate's responses in full.