Former Philly Mayor John Street endorses Rebecca Rhynhart

Former Philly Mayor John Street gestures while sitting next to Philly mayoral candidate Rebecca Rhynhart

Mayoral candidate Rebecca Rhynhart says, “Mayor Street is a huge asset to my campaign.” (The Philadelphia Tribune/Abdul R. Sulayman)

This story originally appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune.

Former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart brought out a big gun for her campaign for mayor — former two-term mayor John F. Street.

“He is providing expert advice from his experience on a daily basis to my campaign,” Rhynhart said. “Mayor Street is a huge asset to my campaign with the endorsement and then also, his time, energy, knowledge and constructive criticism.”

She said Street as mayor, got things done, such as the $300 million Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) which invested funds in the underserved neighborhoods to clean up lots, removed abandoned cars and built 16,000 new housing units.

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Rhynhart and Street announced Monday that the former mayor is endorsing her during an editorial meeting at The Philadelphia Tribune.

“I am going to be in meetings. I’ll go to the wards,” Street said. “I will be helping with public policy. I am going to do whatever I can.”

In October, Rhynhart resigned as City Controller and announced her campaign for mayor in West Philadelphia, touring several other neighborhoods.

Rhynhart joins several city colleagues, such as former Council members Allan Domb, Derek Green, Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker and Maria Quiñones Sánchez, all of whom have resigned. Domb, who also owns a real estate firm, Green and Gym, were all at-large Council members. Parker represented parts of the Northwest section of the city and Quiñones Sánchez, represented parts of North and Northeast Philadelphia. All are Democrats.

Philadelphia law requires city employees to resign from their positions before running for elected city offices.

Since then, several other Democrats have entered the race for mayor, such as Jeff Brown, who owns several area supermarkets; James DeLeon, a retired Municipal Court judge; the Rev. Warren Bloom Sr., a community organizer and state Rep. Amen Brown, D-10th District.

In 2018, when Rhynhart was sworn in as City Controller, she became the first woman to ever hold that position in Philadelphia. The controller is the city’s chief auditor and an independent financial watchdog, who advocates for better management of city’s finances, exposes fraud and mismanagement.

There has never been a female mayor in the city, but four are running for the office this year.

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Previously, Rhynhart worked in the private sector as a director in the public finance division of Fitch Ratings and a managing director at Bear Stearns & Co. on Wall Street. In 2008, she became city treasurer and also served as budget director.

According to Street, her experience will serve her well as mayor.

“You get a sense of the requirements of the job,” Street said. “It has not gotten easier — it has gotten more complex. There is only one person I know who is a candidate for mayor, who worked in two distinct administrations who was a city controller for five years (Rhynhart was elected twice.) She has looked at the operations of every single department for half of a decade.”

Maurice Floyd, a longtime political operative, said: “More than anything it is a surprising endorsement. I do not think that the endorsement will have any impact on this election.”

But Street disagreed, saying in the last 10 years, polling data suggests that people value his opinion on politics and his choice for mayor.

“I think that voters in this city, particularly African Americans, will care what I think about all this,” Street said. “I’m going to tell them what I think. Here is my choice: (Rhynhart) here is a person who I think can rise to the occasion.”

Street was first elected as the city’s 97th mayor in 1999 and reelected in 2004.

On May 16, Philadelphia voters will choose the Democratic and Republican nominees for mayor in the primary election.

Since Democrats in the city hold a 7-1 registration advantage, the Democratic nominee will likely win Nov. 7, when city residents go to the polls to choose a replacement for Mayor Jim Kenney.

Under city law, Kenney is barred from serving a third consecutive term.

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