Butkovitz, Williams square off in Democratic mayoral debate

Flashpoint
May 10, 2019 - 9:31 am
KYW Newsradio Democratic mayoral debate

Alex Silverman/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — KYW Newsradio hosted a live debate Thursday night featuring the two Democratic challengers to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney in this month's primary election. 

Former Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz squared off with state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. Incumbent Kenney declined an invitation to participate.

Butkovitz and Williams were asked about several topics, such as funding public schools and jobs and crime in Philadelphia, among others. When it comes to crime, and the rise in the homicide rate, Butkovitz said it's all about guns. 

"It should be task force from the police department, using confidential informants and undercover activities to identify the gun houses where I understand you can go to some and rent a gun for an hour," he said.

And to deal with the violence, Williams said the first thing he would do as mayor would be to declare a state of emergency. 

"Similar to what we did with the opioid epidemic, we've identified it as a problem and a crisis," he said. "We should never be here, at this level of murder in Philadelphia, without it being interrupted three-and-a-half years ago when we saw this trend."

KYW Newsradio Democratic mayoral debate
KYW Newsradio

KYW Newsradio Democratic mayoral debate
KYW Newsradio

Another question raised was if the 10-year tax abatement should continue.

"I think we only need the 10-year property tax abatement in areas where you cannot sell houses for more than $300,000," Butkovitz said. "That was the problem in the first place. Center City doesn't need abatements anymore. South Philly doesn't need abatements anymore."

Williams said change is needed and should be targeted.

"We need to use it for those who really need it," he added. "So, public school teachers need an abatement. Health care workers need an abatement. And so we need middle-class housing along with affordable housing, so we're going to redesign the abatement process."

Both agreed they would do away with stop-and-frisk. 

The full KYW Newsradio Flashpoint Debate will air at 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday, or you can watch our livestream below.

The Pennsylvania primary election is May 21.

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KYW Newsradio's Tim Jimenez contributed to this report.