Republican launches campaign for Philly controller

     Republican candidate for Philadelphia city controller Mike Tomlinson. (Mike Tomlinson for City Controller Facebook page)

    Republican candidate for Philadelphia city controller Mike Tomlinson. (Mike Tomlinson for City Controller Facebook page)

    Republican Mike Tomlinson planned to announce his candidacy for Philadelphia city controller Thursday night at a Northeast Philadelphia recreation center.

    Tomlinson, 60, was a corporate accountant for decades, serving insurance companies, banks, and manufacturers. It’s a resume he thinks would help the city keep a closer eye on its finances.

    “We need to implement processes and procedures that prevent corruption and fraud and inefficiency and waste,” he said. “That’s where my background comes in. That’s exactly what I do.”

    Improving Philadelphia’s woefully underfunded pension accounts and its public schools are his top priorities.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    “The two biggest things I can give you in the city of Philadelphia are simply not even being looked at,” said Tomlinson.

    The city’s pensions are less than 50 percent funded. The fund had a net loss of $149 million in fiscal year 2016 and a nearly $12 billion deficit.

    To Tomlinson, that’s a disgrace.

    If left unchecked, officials with the School District of Philadelphia have projected a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall by 2022.

    “My daughters are now sending their kids to school, and they’re frustrated because they say, ‘Dad, we pay taxes, we do everything we’re supposed to do, but I cannot send my son, my daughter to the Philadelphia school system,” said Tomlinson, a former math teacher at Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia.

    With no other GOP candidate, Tomlinson has, in all likelihood, secured a spot on November’s general election ballot.

    Three-term incumbent Democrat Alan Butkovitz faces Rebecca Rynhart, former chief administrative officer and budget director, in the primary scheduled for May 16.

    The ballot will also feature candidates for Philadelphia district attorney and several city and state judgeships.

    Turnout is expected to be low. Tomlinson, who faces a steep uphill battle, said he sees that as an advantage — if his message wins over voters.

    “I see our leadership at all levels doing nothing but divide. And for me to say, Democrats, Democrats, Democrats, I am only contributing to that rhetoric between parties,” he said.

    Tomlinson ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat in 2012 and state representative two years later.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal