The information the public gets about mayoral candidates is usually limited to sound bites and quick debate answers. To give a more lengthy sampling of the candidates' platforms, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce released answers to five questions it had posed about small business and job growth.
Answers came in from former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, former city spokesman Doug Oliver, former Common Pleas Court Judge Nelson A. Diaz, former City Councilman James F. Kenney, and State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. Former State Sen. T. Milton Street Sr. did not respond to the questionnaire.
The candidates overlapped in promises and ideas, including pressuring Harrisburg for fair school funding and pledges to reform business taxes.
On a first question about how many jobs they would create, all but Oliver declined to give a specific number. Oliver said he would aim to duplicate the progress made under Mayor Nutter, when 4,000 jobs were created in the city and 10,000 Philadelphians found work.
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 create a committee of stakeholders to draft business-tax reform ideas and seek approval from Harrisburg for 20-year tax abatements.
Diaz said the city needs to focus on job growth outside Center City and University City. He suggested that community colleges become partners in providing business skills to residents.
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.
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 would expand prisoner reentry programs and work with Harrisburg to decouple commercial and residential property tax rates so he could set the commercial rate 15 percent higher than the residential rate.
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 levels. He said that making those resources available across different languages was a "top priority" to help immigrant-owned small businesses.
To read each candidate's full responses, which range from two to seven pages, visit the news page on the chamber's website at http://news.gpcc.com.