The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity on Tuesday announced it is supporting underdog Democratic mayoral candidate state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams just two weeks before the party’s primary.
“In many ways, the people we are seeing in our community are disappointed with what has resulted and unsatisfied with the direction that things are headed,” the group’s president, Jay B. Broadnax, said while discussing incumbent Jim Kenney, who some members supported four years ago.
“We believe that the mayor’s office must be accessible, must be inclusive and must execute policy that works for everyone,” Broadnax added.
“It must be able to concede when things are not working rather than doubling down and being insistent and defensive,” he continued. “We believe that the current administration has not kept it’s promises in inclusion in hiring and contracts, and those involved in the current administration, from the transition team to the current Cabinet, do not reflect the diversity of the city.”
The group announced its endorsement of Williams at the Calabash Restaurant and Banquet Hall in West Philadelphia. It also endorsed candidates for City Commissioner, City Council, Register of Wills as well as for judgeships on the Superior, Municipal and Common Pleas courts.
The group made no endorsement for sheriff, where incumbent Jewell Williams has been besieged by allegations of sexual harassment. Broadnax said his organization was unable to reach consensus in that particular race.
Williams and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz are underdogs in their effort to unseat Kenney in the May 21 primary. No Philadelphia mayor seeking re-election has lost since the city’s two-term limit took effect in 1952.
Kenney and Williams competed for the office in a five-person Democratic primary in 2015, when Kenney defeated the second-place Williams by 30 percentage points.
At that time, the Black Clergy organization endorsed Williams. However, the support for Williams was not unanimous, as factions favored Kenney, Broadnax said Tuesday.
He noted that rising homicide rates, gentrification, eroding neighborhoods and other issues, specifically “those that continue to marginalize African Americans across the city, united the clergy this time around.”
“I’m grateful and humbled to receive the support of the Black Clergy of the city,” Williams said. “Our communities have not benefited from the Kenney administration and they are tired of it.
“He has had the opportunity but he has wasted it. It was given to him — the community trusted him — and he has gone back on his promises,” Williams added.
Among the other the endorsed candidates are: Kenyatta Johnson (City Council District 2), Jannie Blackwell (City Council District 3) and Curtis Jones (City Council District 4). For at-large council seats, they supported Helen Gym, Sandra Dungee Glenn, Erika Almirón, Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Billy Thompson.
Judicial candidates Amanda Green-Hawkins and Daniel McCafferty received endorsements for Superior Court, Theresa Brunson for Municipal Court along with Carmella Jacquinto, Anthony Kyriakakis, Leon Goodman, Cateria McCabe, Kendra McCrae and Janine Momasso for Court of Common Pleas.
Both Omar Sabir and Dennis Lee received support in their bid for City Commissioner seats, and Jacque Whaumbush was endorsed to head the Register of Wills.