Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

DA Seth Williams: I'm not running for mayor in 2015

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams gives the Democratic response to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus news conference, Thursday, July 19, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams gives the Democratic response to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus news conference, Thursday, July 19, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

With just hours to go before the polls closed Tuesday in Philadelphia, heavily-favored Democratic incumbent for District Attorney Seth Williams said he's mulling his priority agenda items if he's elected to a second term.

A 2015 mayoral run is not one of them.

"I will be supporting someone else in 2015," Williams said in an interview with philly.com when asked whether a bid for higher office is in his cards. "That's a no."

Williams demurred to say exactly who he will be supporting.

"I'm taking things one day at a time," he said. "I hope to get reelected, and I hope to continue to do a great job by doing the best I can do every day. I think the future will take care of itself."

The city's top prosecutor said, if he is reelected, he plans to continue the GunStat and focused deterrence programs many have credited with helping to push Philadelphia's homicide rate to a 45-year low.

"I was at a meeting today with Attorney General Eric Holder, the Mayor's chief of staff Everett Gillison and the U.S. Attorney, and I spoke about focused deterrence," he said. "Also while campaigning, I spoke with state Sen. [Anthony] Williams. Everyone wants us to do as much as we can to expand focused deterrence and that's our goal because, definitely, the empirical data shows it's been successful in reducing gun violence."

Williams also said he hopes to work with the Philadelphia school district, Department of Human Services and family court to expand efforts to combat truancy.

"Truancy is the gateway to criminal behavior," he said. "You're eight times more likely to go to state prison if you're a high school dropout and, unfortunately, in Philadelphia, you're 20 times more likely to be a homicide victim if you're a high school dropout. So it doesn't sound sexy, it doesn't sound like something a tough prosecutor talks about, but if we're going to be smart and tough on crime, we need to do all we can to reduce truancy and keep kids in school."

City Controller candidate Alan Butkovitz, also a heavily-favored Democrat and incumbent, wasn't as categorical when asked whether he'd consider a shot at the mayor's seat.

"I have made no decision on that yet," he said. "It's something that's under consideration, but it's going to depend on what the entire field looks like for that race, and I think that will become clear during 2014."

In the meantime, if Butkovitz wins today's election, he plans to take a closer look at the school district's funding formula and to identify areas where the city may be able to generate additional tax revenue.

"We're going to go back and look at the Revenue Department on tax enforcement because we've been limited in our ability to review, by their claims of confidentiality, certain records," he said. "We believe we are going to get a more responsive response from the new people in that department."

Butkovitz said he will also look at the effectiveness of tax credits in job creation, as well as alternative ways of drawing demand-driven revenue from the city's anchor institutions.

Also on his agenda are setting aside money to pay unresolved municipal labor contracts -- which he said "will eventually be a reckoning" and "should be dealt with truthfully" -- and increasing oversight of key city agencies.

"[The Department of Licenses and Inspections] has been a longtime priority for us," he said. "We're currently involved in an examination of whether the announced improvements in L&I have, in fact, been implemented."

Polls close tonight at 8 p.m.

Alex Wigglesworth For Philly.com
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