Northeast Times

Nutter and Brown face off for the top spot

Kar­en Brown knows she won’t beat May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter on Tues­day with a bar­rage of tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials.

The long­shot Re­pub­lic­an chal­lenger has raised just $37,000 dur­ing the cam­paign.

“Wow,” she said in jest.

In lieu of a fat war chest, she is re­ly­ing on try­ing to reach as many voters as pos­sible in small and large set­tings. She said she’s put 50,000 miles on her car and gone through 20 pairs of shoes.

“We’re every­where,” she said.

Nut­ter, mean­while, has had smooth sail­ing since win­ning the 2007 Demo­crat­ic primary. He crushed Al Tauben­ber­ger in the gen­er­al elec­tion that year and de­feated former state Sen. Milton Street in the primary earli­er this year.

Still, the con­tro­ver­sial Street took 24 per­cent in the primary, in­dic­at­ing some dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the may­or. Nut­ter main­tains a cam­paign of­fice and staff.

“I don’t take any­thing for gran­ted,” he said.

A third can­did­ate, in­de­pend­ent Wali Rah­man, aka Di­op Olug­bala, is also in the race.

Nut­ter be­lieves he de­serves four more years based on, among oth­er things, re­duc­tions in vi­ol­ent crimes, shoot­ings and murders.

“I hired the best po­lice com­mis­sion­er in the United States of Amer­ica,” he said, re­fer­ring to Charles Ram­sey.

The may­or also cited in­creases in stand­ard­ized test scores among pub­lic school stu­dents and the num­ber of people with col­lege de­grees. He de­scribes him­self as “act­ively en­gaged” in the search for a new School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia su­per­in­tend­ent.

City chief edu­ca­tion of­ficer Lori Shorr is work­ing closely with state De­part­ment of Edu­ca­tion Sec­ret­ary Ron Tomalis and school dis­trict ad­viser Ed Wil­li­ams.

“We are bring­ing all the parties to­geth­er,” Nut­ter said.

In ad­di­tion, in­teg­rity of­ficer Joan Mark­man and in­spect­or gen­er­al Amy Kur­land are work­ing closely with the FBI and the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice to elim­in­ate cor­rup­tion and pro­mote trans­par­ency and open­ness.

“We’ve vir­tu­ally ended pay to play,” Nut­ter said.

The in­cum­bent, who lives in Wyn­nefield, ac­know­ledged the tough eco­nom­ic con­di­tions caused him to sus­pend planned re­duc­tions in the city’s wage and busi­ness taxes and an in­crease in the city’s prop­erty and sales taxes. He said the city is “not out of the woods.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has kept a pri­or­ity on pub­lic safety, he con­tends.

“We did not lay off one po­lice of­ficer or fire­fight­er,” he said.

The city is mov­ing for­ward, Nut­ter claims. Three ho­tels are planned, and more jobs will be com­ing to the Phil­adelphia Nav­al Shipyard. Also, Teva Phar­ma­ceut­ic­als will be build­ing a plant on Red Li­on Road.

The may­or is proud of the city’s en­hanced re­cyc­ling ef­forts and boasts of in­creas­ing work con­tracts giv­en to minor­it­ies, wo­men and the dis­abled.

The city budget would look bet­ter, Nut­ter be­lieves, if City Coun­cil agreed to elim­in­ate the De­ferred Re­tire­ment Op­tion Plan for city em­ploy­ees.

“Our city can­not af­ford that pro­gram. It needs to go,” he said.

Nut­ter was elec­ted to Coun­cil in 1991 in a new class of sev­en. Like that year, Coun­cil will also have a new pres­id­ent. While most ob­serv­ers be­lieve Nut­ter is back­ing Coun­cil­wo­man Mari­an Tasco, whom he calls a “long­time friend,” for the top job, he has made no pub­lic de­clar­a­tion.

“I don’t have a vote in that elec­tion,” he said.

Brown, a re­tired teach­er from South Phil­adelphia who says she still has a pas­sion for edu­ca­tion, planned to run for City Coun­cil as a Demo­crat this year.

The Re­pub­lic­an City Com­mit­tee was des­per­ate for someone to op­pose Re­altor John Feather­man, a re­former. Brown was re­cruited to the may­or­al race and edged Feather­man by 64 votes.

If elec­ted, Brown would be Phil­adelphia’s first fe­male may­or and the first Re­pub­lic­an in 60 years. She’s seek­ing to be the first chal­lenger to oust an in­cum­bent in more than 140 years.

Brown be­lieves Nut­ter places him­self on a ped­es­tal, while she views her­self as closer to cit­izens.

“I’m a work­ing mom,” she said. “I want to walk the streets. The middle class is who I reach.”

In of­fice, Brown would re­duce the wage, prop­erty and busi­ness taxes. She fa­vors an elec­ted school board and mer­it pay for pub­lic school teach­ers.

Over­all, she’d have an agenda of pro­mot­ing re­cre­ation and youth sports, with great­er em­phas­is on schools and re­forms with­in the De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices. She ar­gues that young people are the fu­ture of the city.

“Without them, we have no fu­ture,” she said.

Re­forms she would im­ple­ment in­clude re­strict­ing Coun­cil mem­bers from earn­ing out­side in­come and lim­it­ing elec­ted of­fi­cials to two four-year terms. Cur­rently,  Phil­adelphia’s may­or is the only elec­ted of­fi­cial lim­ited to two terms.

Brown thinks Nut­ter is con­cerned about the race. Why else, she spec­u­lated, would Nut­ter bring in Bill Clin­ton for a rally at Temple Uni­versity? The former pres­id­ent can­celed his ap­pear­ance on Sat­urday, cit­ing poor weath­er.

The chal­lenger faults the in­cum­bent for im­ple­ment­ing so-called “brown­outs” as a cost-cut­ting meas­ure at fire­houses.

The may­or is also wrong, she said, to al­low the Oc­cupy Phil­adelphia pro­test­ers to stay out­side City Hall overnight.

“I would have nev­er let them stay there,” she said, adding that she’d al­low them to re­main only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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