Philadelphia, PA – City Council at Large candidate Matt Wolfe criticized Mayor Kenney for his refusal to debate his Republican opponent, Billy Ciancaglini. Wolfe said “I don’t know what is worse: that the mayor won’t engage in a debate with his opponent or his reason for refusing. Philadelphia is the birthplace of American freedom. That was only possible through the free debate of ideas among those with differing opinions. Debates are a bedrock of the American political system that allowed him to become mayor of a major U.S. city. Mayor Kenney disrespects our City’s and Country’s values by refusing to engage in a meaningful debate of ideas with his only opponent.” He went on to say “And if the Mayor is so confident that his policy initiatives are what is best for Philadelphia, then he should have no reason not to debate. Failing to do so is cowardly.”
Shortly after the May primary, Mayor Kenney announced that he would not debate Ciancaglini, stating “It’s hard when the person associates themselves with white supremacists and neo-Nazis to give that person a platform, so probably not.” The Mayor’s basis for his accusation is a blog post on a small, anonymous website called Unicorn Riot. The blog’s sole source for this accusation is a picture of a chat where an individual named “Tee-PA,” who Unicorn Riot claims is a member of neo-Nazi organization Evropa, says he met Ciancaglini and liked him.
“Although I believe the Mayor is doing a disservice by refusing to debate his sole opponent, his reason for doing so sets a new low in politics. He cites a post from an unknown blog operated by unknown individuals with no journalistic credibility. In 2019, anyone can create a website and post anything they want in an hour. It is a complete embarrassment that the mayor of the 5th largest city in the country is citing Unicorn Riot as a legitimate source. By Kenney’s standard, any active website is a legitimate source of news.” Wolfe continued.
Wolfe concluded by stating that Kenney was just avoiding the debate and using the Unicorn Riot blog post as pretext “If the mayor is scared to debate Ciancaglini, he should just say so.”
Wolfe is running for one of the two City Council at Large seats reserved for Republicans. The other five at Large Council seats will go to Democrats. “To show that not everyone in the political process is opposed to political discourse among differing opinions, I am calling for debates among the City Council at Large candidates. All of the Democratic and Republican candidates should participate. We can show Philadelphia that not everyone is as cowardly as Mayor Kenney and we are not afraid to defend our views against differing opinions.”
The Republican at Large candidates include: Matt Wolfe, Bill Heeney, Dan Tinney, Al Taubenberger, and David Oh. The Democrat at Large candidates include: Alan Domb, Helen Gym, Isaiah Thomas, Derek Green, and Katherine Gilmore Richardson.
About Matt Wolfe: Matt Wolfe, a Philadelphia attorney, is a former Deputy Attorney General and was appointed by former Republican DA Ron Castille as a Special Assistant DA. He served in Governor Tom Ridge’s administration helping to grow Pennsylvania’s economy and attract new jobs. Matt is a graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School, Penn, and Villanova Law School.