Interview: Anthony Williams Aims Higher

anthony-williams-pa-gay-conversion-therapyOne surefire way to make Philly Mag’s list of the 75 most powerful people in the city? Be mayor. (Check out Philly Mag’s list on newsstands now: The mayor is on it.)  As an alternative, you might try to be a frontrunner to be the next mayor. State Sen. Anthony Williams is in the latter category: He’s not formally announced his candidacy yet for the 2015 race, but the longtime politico has already lined up support and is seen as the man to beat.

“I want you to know that I’m a passionate Philadelphian, who loves the Flyers, the Eagles, the Sixers — all Philadelphia stuff I love,” he says.

Philly Mag spoke to Williams recently about power, popularity, and what losing the 2010 Democratic primary for governor taught him.

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Is Sam Katz Running for Mayor Again?

Photo | HughE Dillon

Photo | HughE Dillon

Former Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz loves to tell the story about when a reporter asked him if the rumors are true that he still wants to be mayor. Katz’s response: “I’ve wanted to be mayor since I was a seven years old.”

Today’s announcement that Katz is resigning as chair of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Board (PICA) is being read by some as the first sign that he may be considering another run in 2015.

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Pastor Kevin Johnson Decides Not to Run for Mayor

Two weeks ago, the Daily News reported that the pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church, Kevin Johnson, was exploring a mayoral run (i.e. running for mayor). Philly Mag then ran this interview with him, in which he sounded very  much like a candidate. This morning he sent an email to supporters declaring he had changed his mind. Here it is.

Dear Friends,
For those of you who know Kimya and me, you know that our first priority is our family and the second is the congregation at Bright Hope Baptist Church. We take the responsibility of being parents very seriously, and their development is paramount for us.

Last night, I shared with my officers that I will not explore a run for Mayor of Philadelphia in 2015.

While I will continue to serve in various capacities in our great City, at this time, my responsibilities as a father and pastor will be my focus.

I pray God’s richest blessing upon you and your family.

Well, so much for a dark-horse, outsider candidate, whose name we haven’t already seen bandied about a million times before.
Update: It’s worth that Johnson came under some scrutiny last week when the Daily News reported that his children attend the prestigious Penn Alexander school in West Philadelphia, even though they don’t qualify for admission based on where they live. (It’s hard enough to get in if you do live in the prized catchment.) Who knows if those reports spurred Johnson to change his mind, but as my colleague Patrick Kerkstra tweeted, he did get “an early taste of the scrutiny that comes with a run.”

5 Questions With Mayoral Hopeful Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

He’s an outsider, but not an unknown. On Sundays, Kevin Johnson stands in the pulpit of Bright Hope Baptist Church, preaching sermons to the same congregation once led by the late and much-loved U.S. Rep. Bill Gray III. Now Johnson is considering his own entry into politics, announcing this week that he is forming an exploratory committee to consider running for mayor to replace Michael Nutter.  He talked to Philly Mag about the challenges facing the city, the relationships needed to bust through gridlock, and about sharing a famous name.

You’re forming an exploratory committee to run for mayor. Simple question: Why would you be a good mayor for Philadelphia?

I believe I would be a good mayor for Philadelphia. One [reason] is because I understand the pain and the challenges that are here in the city. Every day I see and talk to people here in Philadelphia who are hurting. I am passionate about people and fighting for them, particularly our children as it relates to public education, and I’ve decided to become more involved and begin to address some of these serious issues.

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Ed Rendell Addresses Rumors He’s Running: Only If Things Got Really, Abysmally Bad

AP-rendell-940Just how desperate is Philadelphia?

Come 2015, the answer to that question might determine whether or not Ed Rendell seeks a third term as mayor.

In recent days, Rendell has downplayed his interest in returning to City Hall. He did so again in a brief phone interview this morning, telling me: “It’s not something that anybody should be thinking about.”

But Rendell does seem to be giving the idea some real thought.
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Philadelphia Suffers Bout of Nostalgia, Wants Mayor Ed Rendell Back

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, especially for Philadelphians pining for better days (and winning sports teams). Things in the past were just better, more navigable and less stressful. Some of us can even remember a time when our school system wasn’t completely boned.

Which, naturally, is why so many Philadelphians are longing for a change in leadership, specifically one that hearkens back to an era when we proudly carried the chip on our collective shoulder and got things done. We are, of course, wanting for Ed Rendell’s Philadelphia of old. Now if we could just convince the Big Guy to run.

Allan Domb, Philly’s Condo King, couldn’t think of a better guy to have in office right now:

“If Ed Rendell is mayor, the spirit of Philadelphia will change overnight, investment from the business community will skyrocket immediately,” said Domb, the Center City condo developer and real estate broker. “We have to do this. Who do you put in a basketball game with 44 seconds left and everything on the line? Your best player.”

Political strategist Mary Isenhour agrees:

“Who wouldn’t want Ed Rendell as mayor again?” said Mary Isenhour, a strategist who ran Rendell’s 2006 gubernatorial reelection campaign, adding she knows of no serious discussions toward that end.

Ditto for Democratic consultant Daniel F. McElhatton:

“There’s nostalgia for competency, leadership, communication skills,” said Democratic consultant Daniel F. McElhatton. “All the candidates out there are unknowns. Ed Rendell is a known commodity.”

Sam Katz, of course, provides the rare dissenting view, exhibiting Rendell’s record in office as the prime example of the former Gov’s unlikely fit:

“The things the mayor will need to do over the next eight years are not things Ed’s going to want to do,” Katz said. “He spent the first year in City Hall cutting, and hated it – but most of his experience, in the city and the state, was during times of economic expansion … Why take a reputation that borders on as good as it gets and put it at risk?”

Nostalgia, while powerful and comforting, often provides little more than emotional security, and that might be behind the lure of Mayor Ed 2.0.

The only good thing about the good old days, after all, is that they’re over. []

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