Editorial | Podcasts and Forums

Get to know the candidates

The room where the Editorial Board meets is known affectionately as The Fishbowl. (It has a lot of glass; a lot of fake fish, too).

In the last few weeks, whole schools of election candidates have passed through The Fishbowl.

There have been candidates tall and short, veteran and novice, glib and fumbling. Some have been running for suburban offices or Pennsylvania judgeships, but most seek to be members of Philadelphia City Council or mayor of the city.

Here's the good news on Council: There's a boatload of smart, solid, sincere candidates - a sign of the ferment for reform in town. The bad news: Voters face tough choices.

With the mayoral candidates, the endless parade of live forums by now imparts a certain sense of sameness to their rote answers. In reality, though, the five are distinctive characters, each with his own style and aspirations.

The differences among candidates come alive if you get a chance to talk to each for an extended period. That's an opportunity Editorial Board members enjoy during the endorsement process, but one that many citizens rarely get.

That's one reason why we've begun taping many endorsement interviews and posting them on the Great Expectations project Web site, http://go.philly.com/greatexpectations

On the site today, you'll find podcasts of our interviews with mayoral candidates Bob Brady, Tom Knox and Chaka Fattah. Michael Nutter and Dwight Evans will come in today, and we'll post audio as soon as possible.

In the interviews, we ask questions informed by what we've heard from citizens during more than 40 Great Expectations forums around the city. To be sure, we don't ask every question you'd like to hear answered; we often don't get to ask every question we'd planned. Candidates, bless their hearts, tend to go on.

But the podcasts do cover wide ground; they give you a chance to hear the candidates lay out their ideas in some detail and respond to some pretty direct questioning.

Also posted are joint interviews with the candidates for the Council District 1 and 7 seats. (The District 1 dialogue was lively, to say the least.)

If you're looking to discuss the mayoral and Council races, a great chance arrives a week from today, when the Great Expectations project launches Deliberation Days, 10 events in five days, each event featuring a live debate for a different Council race.

For more details and to sign up to attend, please see the Great Expectations Web site.