Mayor’s race? Billy C’s long shot

For the half dozen years he was a craps dealer in Connecticut and Atlantic City, Billy Ciancaglini learned about how odds work. 

Billy Ciancaglini in front of a portrait of his mentor, Joe Santaguida
(Photo: Stu Bykofsky)

Despite that knowledge, he thinks he will embarrass Jim Kenney on November 5 in the race for mayor.

Ciancaglini, 48, as a Republican, is on the short end of a 7-1 registration edge. With two weeks to go, there has been little notice of this race, he doesn’t have money for paid media and hasn’t figured out how to get free media. 

Several months ago, I casually asked Billy C, as he likes to be called, to handicap his chances. He admitted they were poor. 

He now has a shot, he tells me as we sit down last week in his cubicle in a Society Hill shared office space. The former gym rat welcomes me with a handshake that could crack walnuts. He’s 5-8, muscular and built like a fire plug.

Why the positive outlook now, I ask?

“A lot of things have happened,” he says. “The city has started to go downhill as far as violent crime, opioids and taxes. People are fed up with it.”

He settles in behind a desk in the office that overlooks South 3rd St.

“We need less crime and more justice,” he says. “Now we have the opposite.”

Crime, he knows about. He is a criminal defense attorney who calls Joe Santaguida — best known as a storied Philadelphia mob lawyer — a mentor, friend and former employer. A painting of Santaguida occupies one wall of his office.

Ciancaglini came to the law late. A life-long South Philadelphian, he attended St. John Neumann, then enrolled in LaSalle. He was 17 and figured he wasn’t ready for higher education. “It didn’t seem right to stay there and drift aimlessly,” he says.

He took a long sabbatical in the casino industry, where his mother, Linda, already worked. His late father, Anthony, had been an iron worker, as is his younger brother, Michael. 

Ciancaglini also came to the Republican Party late, only 18 months ago.

“The Democratic Party moved away from what I believe in,” he says. “The soda tax, Sanctuary City, injection sites, all together are things I never signed up for.”

He says he won’t let a political party “dictate what I believe,” and that includes Republicans.

He will vote for Donald Trump, he says, but “I’m not campaigning for him, I’m not knocking on doors.”

His path to the candidacy was rocky. Some would say outright weird.

The party’s first choice was another Democrat turncoat, Daphne Goggins, the first African-American woman to be nominated for the job by the GOP. She eventually admitted to mental problems and possibly defrauding the government on disability payments. 

When Goggins, who had complained about a lack of party support, dropped out of the race, Ciancaglini dropped in.

And now he is complaining about a lack of party support.

What’s up, I ask GOP Chair Michael Meehan. 

What’s up is down, meaning the GOP, he tells me.

The party is “dysfunctional,” he says. “Some people who are ward leaders should be Democrats, but the Democrats don’t want them.”

When it was time to endorse candidates, they couldn’t raise a quorum, Meehan says. I am beginning to feel like a priest taking confession. 

One candidate did get endorsed — Brian O’Neill, who is the long-time District Councilman in the Northeast. The party made no endorsements for At-Large Council candidates, but would like to keep the two seats held by David Oh and Al Taubenberger. 

Meehan likes Ciancaglini, who won the primary, but the party has no money to give him for TV commercials. 

“Who would give us money?” the Republican chair asks me.


The nomination process “was not fun,” Ciancaglini understates, “but I think I’ve done the right thing by putting it in the past. I’m not blaming anyone, I’m trying my best to be a team player.”

But in the next breath he says, “Not everyone in the Republican Party wants to be a team player.”

Republican Mayoral candidate Billy Ciancaglini in his office
(Photo: Stu Bykofsky)

Not only have they not helped his campaign, he says, some “have gone out of their way to work against my campaign.” 

Those might be the wannabe Democrats Meehan alluded to.

So how can he possibly win?

He’s counting on everyone who promises to vote for him to bring an plus 1 to the polls — and for Kenney’s overconfident forces to stay home.

Kenney isn’t advertising on TV — yes, it will come — and the gutless mayor refuses to debate Ciancaglini.

“He simply doesn’t want to answer questions on a variety of topics — how he deleted text messages not once, but twice, address the illegal immigrant he kept here who repeatedly raped  a 5-year-old child and numerous other issues. He wants to make pretend an election is not happening in November, but he will be aware of it when he loses,” Ciancaglini says with bravado.

OK — that’s the politics. How about the policies? 

Soda tax. Deeply unpopular, Ciancaglini needs Council to overturn it. I didn’t work in a casino, but that’s a long shot.

So-called “safe” injection sites. He will never permit “the opening of a building and let them shoot illegal drugs into their body.”

Instead, he supports a three-prong attack: Drug rehabilitation, job training, temporary housing. These services will be provided by existing agencies, and he would extend the services to homeless veterans.

Sanctuary City: Just like house doors have locks, we have to check who is coming in, he says, and he would cooperate with ICE to remove foreign felons — fast. As mayor he will attend the naturalization ceremony for immigrants who do the right thing and come here the right way. 

Crime Rate: In what he says will be the “oooooo factor,” he would expand stop and frisk to get illegal guns off the street. “I’m not asking for racial profiling. I am asking officers to use their judgment,” he says.

Reducing Poverty: That requires jobs. He has no solution other than making Philadelphia more business friendly.

Taxes: “We haven’t received any new services in a while, so I don’t know why homeowners are being gouged,” he says.

For the record, Kenney has increased the city budget 25% — from $4 to $5 billion in his term. Is everything in your life 25% better?

That’s what Billy C is asking.

A vote for Kenney is a vote for more of the same.

26 thoughts on “Mayor’s race? Billy C’s long shot”

  1. Last Republican mayor in Phila was 1952 – and they had the office for what – about 100 years? I think Billy Boy has to wait at least another 30, not that Phila can handle another 30 under Demo rule. Obviously, Mr. C. knows the odds, but I assume he is trying to get his name out there, like some other Republican candidate we know that’s been trying for years

  2. Billy is a long shot but if the people of Phladelphia would open their eyes and see what is going on in their own neighborhood perhaps Billy will win.

  3. The Pollsters thought PRESIDENT Trump was a long shot and we’ve seen that success story as it’s played out over the last three years. Give’m HELL Billy, you got my vote and as many as I can convince that you’re the only choice for this sinking ship

  4. Yeah, a Тяцмрея will never be mayor in this city. He’ll grab the racist vote but the majority of the city isn’t going for this crap. Sorry Billy, you’re getting smoked.

  5. Who is funding the fake GOP of Philadelphia? Follow the money…… if Billy wins it will hurt both parties …. greedy creeps should be ashamed of themselves.Stop letting the current politicians of both parties ROB YOU BLIND….. they are all friends in the PHiLLY swamp…let’s see who has their hand in the cookie jar! Vote BILLY for Philly! City wage AND increasing real estate taxes…. what a joke…. where is all the MONEY???

  6. Stu, you let him off of the hook. He still hasn’t answered how he plans to repeal the soda tax, and how he plans to pay for the services it provides.

  7. One of your former mayors said it best: “The brothers and the sisters run this city now!”

    Billy’s chances of becoming mayor are…how far below zero can I go?

      1. A white male Republican has NO chance of being elected in Philadelphia. Period.
        Yes, brothers and sisters are relevant. It’s not racial to point out the obvious — especially when the obvious has been pointed out by a former black mayor. Care to make a wager on Billy’s chances?

  8. Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) held a grip on our southern neighbor’s government for much of the 20th century. Mexico’s one-party rule was considered to be a reflection of a primitive, unenlightened society.

    1. But Philadelphia’s Democratic Party holds all ranges. Nutter was conservative, Kenney is liberal. Rendell was conservative, Street was somewhat liberal.

      I’m talking regular, old school conservative, not the far right crazytown Rush Limbaugh, Fox News type conservative, which aren’t conservative at all. Those people are just a hair off of straight up fascist.

      So, it’s one party rule but there are facets to the party that reflect a host of points on the political compass.

      1. Of my 15 years living in Philly, Mayor Nutter was the highlight. That said, as I see it, most conservative Republicans want limited Govt intervention into our daily lives, as the founders intended. Where in the Constitution does it say that the Federal Govt must run education & collect money from the ppl must pay for it? Not having kids? Too bad, that’s not your money. Where does it say that the ppl must pay for the abortions of the irresponsible? Practice safe sex? Too bad, that’s not your money. Have employer provided health insurance? Too bad, we have to pay for people who just jumped the border! Stealing ever more of my hard-earned money and removing my choices sounds more like fascism to me. Then again, you’d probably think God is a fascist, too, if you believed, which you don’t because>>that’s all that Govt education teaches>>again, no choice. Btw, those are all Democrat policies. For a political ideology that so embraces the idea of diversity, the Democrats are the demographic least open to different ideas.

        P.S. Billy For Philly

  9. I didn’t vote for the soda tax none of us did and Kenny pushed it though anyway I’ve seen two stores around me close because of it the supermarkets are hurting we shop out of the city for everything now . Why just go for sweets things and you can do your whole order and save two more cents in taxes. I will continue to shop out of the city unless things change. We have needles and human feces there the bus stops at Rhawn Street and the Roosevelt Blvd this is what my taxes pay for .people coming up to you begging for money for there drugs I won’t ridge the El because of it .its not safe

  10. Anyone who doesn’t vote for Billy must like crime and criminals and taxes that pay for illegals. Yep that’s it. So do those idiots really care about our city ! Billy or we are doomed !!!!!

  11. Voting for Kenney is just outright stupidity. This city is past the point of circling the drain. If we want change to happen, we have to get out of this ridiculous notion that one party is better than the other. Democrats have done nothing for this city, or it’s residents for as long as they have been in power. Crime, and Drugs are a huge concern in my neighborhood. Kenney, and his Democrat friends have done nothing to help us. In fact the Democrat policy of being soft on petty crimes has driven the petty criminals to get bolder, and commit more crimes. I’m sick of Teenage flash mobs, I’m sick of this Soda tax, and I’m sick of things only getting worse, never better. I love my City, I refuse to give up. Billy C. gets my vote! I’m hopeful that WHEN Billy wins he will keep his promises, and clean up our beloved city.

  12. We’re the left, hi there neighbor!
    We’re Democratc governors and Democratic mayors. We’re always looking out for your health, we provide places to shoot up, and tax soda by the ounce. We take from the rich as much as we can, and tax the hell of corporations. And who really cares if it’s wrong, when you get back what is yours all along. Were on the East Coast and the West Coast and everywhere between. “Heaven now!” is our motto to fulfill all your needs. This is just the beginning and don’t you forget, we’re getting much bolder as we drift further left. In a few years we’ll reach socialist ends, if you keep voting for your Democratic friends.

  13. The City of Philadelphia is in a state of emergency. Drug dealers, and drug users are allowed to do whatever they want in most parts of the city.
    Especially in the Kensington areas of Philly.
    Killings, Gun Violence, and Violent Crimes in general is skyrocketing out of control.
    Real change in leadership is needed right now.
    We need new schools for our Philly Children, and our streets, neighborhoods – communities to be safer. There is souch work to do.
    And Billy Ciancaglini, Candidate For Philadelphia Mayor is ready to stand up for Philadelphians in need, stand up for children – families, stand up for Seniors, and Homeless Citizens.
    Its time to bring honor, integrity, professionalism, and service back into Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office.
    “Putting the health, safety, and overall well beings of Philadelphians First.”
    Billy Ciancaglini For Philadelphia Mayor Punch # 211

  14. Registered Democrat here. Voting for Billy Ciangalini. I voted for Jim Kenney last time. He’s the worst. He’s a disgrace. Billy is fine. This city is fucked. I’m voting straight Republican.

  15. In all the years that the Democrats have run this city it has steadily gotten worse. From a mayor that allowed an explosive device be dropped on a West Philly house burning 3 square blocks in the process to being taxed for everything except the air we breath. We have increased property tax, increased property transfer tax, sugary drinks tax, higher cigarette tax and now a rain water tax. We have a mayor that dances in his office when Philly became a sanctuary city and went to Europe on our dime for a ” global warming ” conference. We have a DA that downgrades charges on a murderer to simple assault. And in all this we have a police force that has their hands tied by that same DA and our present mayor. WE NEED CHANGE. WE NEED A MAYOR THAT CARES ABOUT THIS CITY AND IT’S CITIZENS. WE NEED BILLY C AS MAYOR. A MAN THAT WILL GET THINGS DONE FOR THE BETTER !

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