After narrowly losing to Lynne Abraham in the 2004 primary, Democrat Seth Williams cruised to an easy victory yesterday over Republican Michael Untermeyer to become the first black district attorney in the city and the commonwealth.
Williams, who beat four challengers in the May primary, has spent months preparing for the office by picking the brains of other big-city prosecutors and he will no doubt need it in a city plagued by gun violence, prison overcrowding and lack of trust in the community.
“I expect him to reach out to various communities,” said Chad Lassiter, a professor and president of Black Men at Penn. “I also expect him to be accessible to those various groups who are doing anti-violence and violence prevention and I want him to be just as highly motivated in the position as he was running for the position.”
Many supporters expect Williams to break from Abraham, who was sometimes a lightning rod for controversy during her 19-year tenure, partly by building broad coalitions.
“I think he’s a very smart guy and I look forward to working with him,” said Patricia Coulter, president of the Urban League of Philadelphia. “It’s an awesome task.”