06 November 2007

the next mayor

Today - Tuesday, 6 November - is election day and today Philadelphians will almost certainly be choosing Michael Nutter as the next mayor of our great city.

Nutter is a 50 year old Democratic former Councilman for the 4th District, where he served well, keeping in close communication with his constituency and taking the time and effort to explain in detail the kinds of policies he was pursuing and why. By doing so, he gained a reputation as a "policy wonk," one of the smartest guys in Council.

Nutter's been in the forefront of ethics reform, sponsoring the city's reform bills, which would limit campaign contributions and require the identification of lobbyists for those seeking no-bid city contracts. He's also pushed for tax reform, reducing and/or repealing the city's Business Privilege Tax and Wage Tax. With whatever he proposes, including his campaign issues, Nutter always presents highly detailed plans, crunching the numbers and trying to anticipate any difficulties and problems.

Overall, this makes him not-a-great-candidate in a world where sound-bytes and bumper sticker slogans are the substance of most political debate. Nutter, in that respect, isn't very "exciting."

Nonetheless, he has proven a very successful mayoral candidate. After lagging in polls for months leading up the primaries, he won over Philadelphia voters and began to climb steadily in the polls - in part through positive ads featuring his daughter Olivia (the only child of a candidate actually attending a city public school). Eventually, after winning the endorsement of almost every media outlet (though only one union), Nutter won the primary with 37% of the vote in a field of seven candidates, 12 points ahead of his closest rival.

Though Nutter has a Republican rival, in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 4-to-1 (Kerry won more than 80% of the vote here against Bush), the Republican candidate - Al Taubenberger - has barely received any attention. So, I fully expect that Nutter will win the mayorship today without any problems.

Yet, as mayor Nutter will face a number of profound challenges - chief of which is the steady growth of violent crime in the city since the year 2000. In addition there are ongoing issues: political ethics, a slowing housing market, public transportation, affordable housing, job creation, neighborhood blight, tax reform, urban casinos, and so on.

I'm excited about Nutter's election and am looking forward to his tenure as mayor. As with all of those entrusted with governance, he is a man who deserves our prayers as he will soon begin the transition into office.
Almighty and everlasting God,
we are taught by your holy Word,
that the hearts of rulers are under your governance,
and that you dispose and turn them
as it seems best to your divine wisdom:
we humbly beseech you so to dispose and govern the heart of
Michael your servant, soon to be our mayor,
that, in all his thoughts, words, and works,
he may ever seek your honor and glory,
and study to preserve this city committed to his charge,
in justice, peace, and for the good of all:
grant this, O merciful Father, for your dear Son's sake,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Update: The AP called the election last night almost immediately after the polls closed. With 97% of precincts reporting Michael Nutter won with about 83% of the vote - a historic margin of victory in a mayoral race. Unfortunately, with rain in the morning and the inevitability of the outcome, voter turnout was usually low.