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Former Mayor John F. Street has endorsed Rebecca Rhynhart in the 2023 mayoral race

Street cited Rhynhart's readiness for the job and the need to rein in city spending in endorsing her for mayor.

Former Mayor John F. Street says he supports former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, center, in this year's mayor's race because of her experience as city controller. Tom Gralish/Staff Photographer

by Sean Collins Walsh Published Jan 24, 2023

Former Mayor John F. Street has endorsed Rebecca Rhynhart in this year’s mayoral race, saying Rhynhart’s experience as city controller has prepared her to tackle the city’s problems on day one if she is elected.

“This is a person who can basically hit the ground running,” Street said at a news conference in North Philadelphia. “Nobody understands [city government] like a city controller.”

Rhynhart served for five years as city controller, an independently elected office that audits city spending and investigates fraud, waste, and abuse. After winning a shock upset over incumbent Controller Alan Butkovitz in 2017 and coasting to reelection in 2021, she resigned last year to run for mayor.

She previously served as budget director under former Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s administration and was briefly chief administrative officer under Mayor Jim Kenney before running for office.

Other candidates in this year’s Democratic field, which includes five former Council members, also have ample relevant experience. But Street said Rhynhart’s resumé was the most relevant to being mayor.

When he ran for mayor in 1999, Street was also an exceptionally qualified candidate, having been Council president during former Mayor Ed Rendell’s tenure and working closely with the administration. He won two of the most hotly contested mayoral races in recent memory and held the top job from 2000 to 2008.

John Street was Mayor from 2000 to 2008. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff

On Tuesday, Rhynhart echoed hallmarks of Street’s administration, which focused on neighborhood revitalization and blight reduction after Rendell’s more Center City-oriented tenure.

“The neighborhoods in our city have not all been treated equally,” Rhynhart said. “That happened because of decades and decades of racist government policies.”

Street, meanwhile, emphasized the need to rein in city spending after years of budget increases under Kenney. The size of the city budget was a significant debate during Kenney’s first term, but it has fallen by the wayside as attention has focused on the coronavirus pandemic and gun violence crisis.

“This budget is going to have to be trimmed,” Street said.

The city budget was just over $4 billion when Kenney took office in 2016, and it ballooned to over $5 billion amid a strong economy, ambitious spending plans, and generous labor contracts during his first term. Council approved a $5.8 billion budget for this year and, thanks to unexpectedly strong tax revenue, it is now approaching $6 billion.

As controller, Rhynhart was critical of what she described as inefficient spending and sloppy bookkeeping under Kenney. The mayor often shot back, saying Rhynhart was making hay to boost her political ambitions and cementing an antagonist relationship between the administration and controller’s office for much of Kenney’s tenure.

On Tuesday, Rhynhart said she wanted the city to be more “strategic” about spending but avoided saying whether she felt the overall price tag of the budget should come down.

“The budget has gone up and up, and people’s satisfaction with city services has actually gone down,” she said.

Street is the first former mayor to make an endorsement in the race. In addition to Kenney and Rendell, the other living Philly mayors are Bill Green III, W. Wilson Goode, and Nutter, who flirted with running this year before announcing last week that he would not be seeking to win back his old job.

This was originally posted on January 24, 2023 by The Philadelphia Inquirer. You can read the original article by clicking here.

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