Ed Rendell: The Oral History

Looking back on the former mayor as his political career in Pennsylvania nears its end.


• Bob Brady: There’s nothing more he can possibly do in politics. He’s not running for public office — he told me he’s had his last campaign. Maybe he’ll take a cabinet position. I’d love to see that happen.

• Josh Shapiro:
I don’t think this region fully understands the impact of Ed Rendell, whether it’s ending a strike or providing an extra bit of funding to make something happen or improving our public schools or environment. I think he’s irreplaceable to this region; he’s a giant here.

• John Street:
He was, for many people, larger than life. He strolled in, and the room tended to light up. And he inspired confidence in a lot of important places.

• Thomas Paine Cronin
: He has a reputation that is overblown. He’s a corporate Democrat. He’s not like a Hubert Humphrey or Kennedy Democrat. He’s not that at all.

• Neil Stein:
What he did for Philadelphia was amazing. Without Ed, this city would never have gotten to where it is today.

• Zack Stalberg
: He’s about as close as you can get to the ideal local political leader.

• Paul Levy
: He set benchmarks and expectations beyond the reach of the city and constantly asked Philadelphia to stretch beyond itself. That was incredibly important, and I think that’s his biggest legacy here, in a city that undervalues itself. Ed, as a non–Philadelphian, appreciated the extraordinary resources of the city and raised expectations about what the city could be.

• Bob Brady:
Looks like he changed since his diet, but he still doesn’t use a fork.

Tom McGrath Tom McGrath, Chief Content and Strategy Officer of MetroCorp tmcgrath@phillymag.com