"I'm running for mayor"

(September 2014)

"I'm running for mayor." For too many Philadelphians, those words seem to be harder to say than "I'm sorry," "I love you," or "Ruben Amaro, you're fired."  With Mayor Nutter unable to run for re-election, the job of Philadelphia's chief executive will soon be open but based on the collective reluctance to utter the words, "I’m running for mayor," it seems like nobody is actually interested in the job.

Of course, that's a bit of a stretch.  There are a great many who would love the job, but it seems that telling us that they actually want the job presents a problem for them.  As of today, only one individual has stepped forward to throw a hat in the ring even though many others have been maneuvering toward the mayor’s office for months and years. 

For a job requiring a big ego, why are so many so shy about telling us they want it?

Resigned To Run?

For starters, some mayoral wannabes hold an elected city position, which means that -- thanks to our City Charter -- they would have to resign their current jobs to run for another elected position.  Unwilling to give up their paychecks, their city cars, or the right to be called "the honorable," some choose to be coy until the last possible moment (as late as next spring) when they would have to legally declare their intentions, resign their position, and let us in on a poorly kept secret that they really do want the job.  Any significant undertaking requires personal courage, sacrifice, and even a leap of faith.  Currently seated elected officials not resigning to run are showing Philadelphia that they lack confidence in their ability to lead (or win) and are unwilling to make sacrifices for our greater good.  So why should we have faith in them?

Others who want the job don't really want to work for it.  Instead, they are content to "put their name out there" hoping for a groundswell of support.  They hope to become the standard-bearer for others who would champion/fund/promote their campaign.  That is no way to show oneself as mayoral timber.  "If elected I will serve -- I just don't want to risk looking like a loser if I don't get many votes," is a downer in a campaign stump speech.  Those who want the job but don't want to tell us they want it until they are sure that they have backup are showing us they are unable to stand alone.  So why would we follow them?

Say It Ain't So

Philadelphians are looking for a man or woman to step forward and tell us why he or she wants to be mayor, why he or she is best qualified, and how our lives will improve if he or she becomes mayor.  Philadelphia doesn't need a wallflower mayor; we need someone who has the guts and confidence to stand up and show us that he or she is the best choice for the very complicated job of leading our city.

Philadelphia doesn't need an insiders' consensus to form around an acceptable candidate.  We need a leader to step forward and appeal to a diverse constituency of citizens across the city.  We need someone to articulate and execute a compelling vision for the city's future.

Name It To Claim It

The way to move past the incestuous and insipid political class that holds Philadelphia back, and move into a brighter future for our city, is not to settle for a timid or tired leader.  It starts with a man or woman who is willing to publicly declare something more than, "I am considering running for mayor" or "I am exploring a mayoral campaign" or "it's looking like I will run."  It starts with saying, "I'm running for mayor."

We are only eight months away from the Democratic Primary Election, which will in all probability select Philadelphia's next mayor.  It's time for the next man or woman who would take that job to let us know that he or she would like our consideration.