Last week was a big one for comings and goings in the Philadelphia mayor’s race.
One candidate (Kenneth Trujillo) dropped out, while other people made rumblings about jumping in.
Despite all that activity and chatter, the public judgment on the mayoral field, at least amid that small group already paying attention, boils down to this:
But it’s early. Declared contenders could reveal previously unseen depths. New names could raise heartbeats.
At this point, until the field settles, maybe we should less time speculating on who will run, and more time on crafting the job interview that will help voters decide who should win.
Because that’s what any election campaign is, properly viewed: a job interview, with the voters in the boss’ seat.
In modern elections, with all their money, maneuvering and marketing, we often lose sight of that. The voters get treated as passive consumers, whose only role is to be hornswoggled into buying one particular brand of political soap over another.
It’s almost become quaint, the idea that the voters (or the news media, acting as the public’s proxy) should take charge and decide which issues should be central to the dialogue, which questions candidates should be forced to answer.
Hope springs eternal, though, and we do have the memory of the 2007 mayoral election, where that kind of public-driven dialogue kinda, sorta happened, leading to a dark-horse winner.
So what questions would you like to hear the candidates address? Here are a few I’d like ask each candidate, some springing from concern about stubborn challenges, others from hope that the city’s arc of improvement over the last eight years can be maintained or accelerated:
What lessons do the Philadelphia police and community leaders who work with minority youth need to take from the Ferguson agony?
What do you know about Philly’s growing community of makers and designers, and what steps will you take to nurture it?
What mistakes do Philadelphia’s leaders chronically make that provide grist for Harrisburg’s contempt, and how would you turn that toxic situation around?
Will you continue Mayor Nutter’s effort to make Philadelphia greener and more sustainable? What ideas do you have for enhancing it?
Do you think a mayor has to simultaneously worry about the needs of people who have no choice to live in Philadelphia and the desires of people who can leave whenever they want? How would you strike that balance?
Finally, imagine that you are talking to a young husband and wife from Francisville who have a 4-year-old child. Give your best one-minute speech to persuade them to stay in the city, and not move to the suburbs. Why should they bet their child’s future on you?
Those are few questions I’m itching to ask. What are yours? Let us know via email, Twitter (links above) or in the comment section below.
Also, a couple of weeks ago, I asked, in concert with Young Involved People, for readers to fill out a short survey about what they seek in a city leader and who they think offers those desired traits. This week will be the last chance to fill out the survey.