If you haven’t really plugged into the Philadelphia mayor’s race yet, I get it. It’s still a couple months away, and the candidates haven’t exactly made a lot of noise just yet.
But I want to make a case that you should get around to paying attention and making a wise choice in this election.
I’ve covered city government for more than 30 years, and I’ve seen up close the difference an effective mayor makes, and an ineffective one.
Let me give you one example of what’s at stake. Next January, the new mayor will appoint a commissioner of parks and recreation. There aren’t a lot of healthy leisure options for kids in some neighborhoods. With a good commissioner, the city’s 150 playgrounds and recreation centers become happy, bustling places, safe harbors for thousands of parents who need alternatives to street corners for their kids.
If the mayor appoints an incompetent or a political hack, programs fall apart, rec centers deteriorate, staff become demoralized, and communities suffer. I’ve seen it both ways.
And that’s just one of scores of critical appointments our new mayor will have to make. And those appointments are just one part of the job. We also need a mayor with vision and integrity, somebody who thinks deeply about policy yet has the political skill to build relationships and advance his program.
Choosing the right leader matters, and the good news is that there’s still time — to learn about the candidates, their backgrounds, and the issues, and to make sure you’re registered, and registered in the right way. There will be contested primaries in both parties this spring, and to vote in either you have to be registered to a particular party. We’ll do our best to keep you informed.