Lone Televised Clash of Philadelphia Mayoral Candidates is Tonight

Mayor Jim Kenney, seeking a second term, is the first mayoral incumbent in 32 years to face a real challenge.

What to Know

  • Municipal elections are being held this year, with the primary May 21 for voters who belong to the Democratic and Republican parties.
  • The general election, in which the winners of the primary face off, will be held Nov. 5.
  • The last incumbent Philadelphia mayor to face a significant challenge for a second term was Wilson Goode Sr. in 1987.


So much hangs in the balance for Mayor Jim Kenney and two Democrats challenging him in the May 21 primary election when the three men take the stage Monday in the only televised debate of the race.

Kenney is the first incumbent Philadelphia mayor in 32 years to face primary challengers with name recognition.

Yet those challengers, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz, have been unable so far to mount campaigns that put much pressure on Kenney.

Neither has had much cash to spend on TV advertising — the quickest way to make a splash — and both have pegged their campaigns to a single issue: the sugary beverage tax.

Paradoxically, the tax, which is Kenney's signature progressive achievement, is much less popular than Kenney. Fifty-five percent of Democratic voters in Philadelphia either approve or strongly approve the incumbent, according to a recent poll.

So that leaves the lone televised debate — a clash in which the three men will share a stage at the Comcast Technology Center — as last, best chance for Butkovitz or Williams to seize momentum, and voters' attention.

The May 13 debate is airing at 7 p.m. on NBC10 in English and in Spanish on TeleXitos, and livestreamed on all NBC10 and Telemundo62 digital platforms. After the debate has concluded, it will be available to watch on demand on and

For More on the Mayor's Race and Other Local Races of the May 21 Primary:

The race for Philadelphia Mayor is heating up. Mayor Kenney is facing criticism from other candidates for the soda tax as well as his past comments on the lack of diversity in his own cabinet.

The three men differ in their stances on several issues, like crime prevention, public education and the "soda tax."

They recently answered an NBC10 survey on the issues. For the question-and-answer session, click here

It's Official: Candidates for Mayor, Sheriff, City Council in Philadelphia

Incumbents in nearly every elected position in Philadelphia are facing competition in the upcoming May municipal elections. Notably, Mayor Kenney faces an old foe, and two women are trying to unseat the incumbent sheriff and become the first-ever female sheriff in the city.

Democrat names are in blue and Republicans in red.


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