On Sunday, the Inquirer‘s Chris Hepp offered up an intriguing look at the respective inauguration-age of Philadelphia’s mayoral candidates. Do check it out here, especially the graphic atop the story.
They range from longshot Doug Oliver (41 years, 3 months) to longest-shot T. Milton Street Sr. (76 yrs, 7 mos). As Citified dutifully pointed out, Lynne Abraham is the oldest in the non-longests-shot field, a thing of national notability.
They are all above the city’s median age (33 yrs, 6 mos). And with the exception of Oliver, they would all be older than any other mayor inaugurated since 1956. (Fine, fine, Jim Kenney would be tied with oldest-since-’56 Richardson Dilworth at a spry 57 yrs, 3 mos.)
From the Inky …
None of this is to suggest any of the current field is too old to be mayor. But the geriatric nature of the contest certainly raises questions. Such as: Why does it seem you need an AARP card just to get on the ballot? And how might all this play with the booming millennial population that is remaking large swaths of the city?
“It is pretty surprising,” said Nutter, who was 50 when he took office. “I think this data is an indicator we need to pay more attention to what is going on in the future of politics in the city. We need to create more opportunities, open more doors, mentor more young people to get them ready for future service.”
Raise the issue with young, politically active Philadelphians, and they complain the system has been rigged against them.
These are interesting questions, ones that could possibly define a conversational narrative between now and May 19.
Anyway, NinetyNine reached out to the candidates to gauge what they thought about age’s role in the race. Here’s what they said (presented in youngster-to-elder order):
— “The city is not quick to embrace outsiders [including in a] generational [sense]. A lot of folks suggest that 40 is too young to run for office. But by 40, we’ve bought and sold a home, paid bills, risen corporate ladders. There’s no basis to say someone who’s 40 can’t have a meaningful impact [as mayor]. We don’t see this in other cities. Here, we take our young talent and eat them. There’s nothing wrong with being older, either, but perspectives are different when you compare the young and old. A new lens can bring new perspectives. The city could benefit from new energy and it’s evident that the old way of thinking hasn’t worked.” — Doug Oliver
— “It’s pretty common that elected officials don’t match the median age of their constituency, and if 56 is too old to be able to speak to the interests of Philadelphians, then I know a few reporters who may need to find a different gig :)” –Lauren Hitt, from the Jim Kenney campaign
— “People don’t understand that chronological, physical and mental age are not always the same. Oliver couldn’t get on his bike and ride with me, so physically, he’s older than me. The Bible said that Abraham fathered children when he was 100 years old, so age makes little difference. How a man thinks and takes care of himself does.” — T. Milton Street Sr.
Calls were placed to the other candidates’ campaigns as well. This post will be updated should they respond.