Crime is still the biggest issue in the Philadelphia mayor's race, overshadowing everything else, but voters are also looking for the next mayor to improve public schools and fight corruption in City Hall, according to the latest

Daily News

Keystone Poll.

Interviewed Jan. 24-29, 436 city residents were asked to identify the most important problem facing Philadelphia today. Two out of every three potential voters - 67 percent - cited crime, drugs or violence.

Other issues trailed way behind. Just 7 percent of those surveyed cited education or schools, 5 percent mentioned unemployment or the economy, and 4 percent described government, politicians or leadership as the city's most important problem.

"I think voters desperately want an answer to the crime problem," said pollster Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College.

"It doesn't mean they don't think other issues are important," Madonna said.

"But this crime thing will dominate this election like no other issue dominated Philadelphia politics since the reform issue in the 1950s."

The potential voters said they wanted to see tighter rules for gun owners and more video cameras installed to deter crime.

A total of 84 percent said they would be more likely to support a candidate who "wants to set more restrictive regulations for gun ownership."

And 78 percent said they would be more likely to support a candidate who "supports the use of video cameras throughout the city as a tool to fight crime."

At the same time, the poll showed near-unanimity among respondents that the next mayor should do something to improve public education and fight corruption.

Asked to rate the importance of various issues on a scale of 1 to 10, the potential voters gave a 9.22 rating to "work to improve the public schools," a shade higher than the 9.19 rating for "develop plans to keep city residents safe from crime."

Better than 19 of every 20 respondents - 96 percent - said they would be more likely to support a mayoral candidate with "a plan to reduce the amount of corruption in City government."

Only 31 percent of those polled said the city was "headed in the right direction," compared with 61 percent who said it was "off on the wrong track."

However, that was a slight improvement from last July, when only 28 percent thought the city was headed in the right direction.

The survey showed strong support for limiting the size of campaign contributions. Nearly four out of five respondents - 78 percent - said they'd favor a candidate who "wants to put a limit on the size of campaign contributions for elections to city offices."

But there was very little support for providing tax dollars for political campaigns. Only 15 percent of those surveyed said they would favor a candidate who "wants to use public money to finance city election campaigns," while 77 percent said they would be less likely to support such a candidate. *

Staff writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.