by Sue Ann Rybak
Former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, a 2015 mayoral contender, told a packed audience at Center on the Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, on Feb. 12 that she would be “nobody’s mayor but yours.”
“Nobody is paying me to be their candidate,” she said. “Do I have to raise money to win? You betcha. You cannot win on looks, or programs, or ideology, or philosophy. You have to win because people have faith in you and are willing to invest in your candidacy – but you’re not buying a piece of me.”
She said people have to start thinking about a new type of governance – one without a “quid pro quo.”
Abraham told the audience that she is “free to make decisions … unburdened by having to kowtow to interests who paid me to be their candidate.”
When asked why she decided to run, Abraham said, “I love this city, I love the people, and the city is facing a lot of problems, and I want to help tackle them.”
Abraham, who graduated from Germantown High School in 1958, said “the number one, single, overarching, most important piece” of her platform is “an overhaul of the entire education system in Philadelphia – from top to bottom.”
“We have to concentrate all of our power and energy on one goal and one goal only – educating children,” she said.
Abraham said now that Gov. Tom Wolf recently fulfilled his campaign promise to tax the extraction and production of natural gas, the legislature must pass a bill that guarantees that every child in the Commonwealth receives “full and fair funding” for education.
“Of the 10 major cities in the United States, we are the poorest,” she said.
According to an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2014 that examined data from U.S. Census 2013 American Community Survey, “Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half the poverty line – of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities.”
Abraham said Gov. Wolf’s proposed extraction tax will help “balance the scales in favor of education.” But she quickly added that Philadelphia cannot continue to go to Harrisburg to beg for funds.
Abraham said that if elected she would like to meet with Gov. Wolf to discuss how the School Reform Commission could eventually be phased out. But she said that can only happen if we are “proper stewards of our funds.”
“I love local control,” she said. “I like controlling my own destiny. But if it’s not responsible [budgeting], we can’t go to Harrisburg and ask for money.”
Abraham said she believed that only the Mayor should do the appointing on the school board.
“If you put school board members on the ballot, then you get this interest group – the same groups that are putting big money into this election to control who gets elected or try to control where the funds go.
She said when special interest groups are elected then “we lose the focus.”
Abraham said people forget that the purpose is to educate our children.
Two other issues she plans to focus her election on are jobs and public safety.
When asked why people should vote for her, Abraham replied, “I think I have the kind of temperament, the experience, the intelligence, the wit, and, if I do say so, the humility that one must have to be able to work with groups of all kinds.”
“I see great potential here – that’s why I want to be the next great leader of the city,” she added.