Labor Leader Asks Butkovitz to Reconsider Running for Mayor

The president of the correctional officers union is "concerned" about the quality of the current mayoral lineup.

Photo: Curtis Blessing

Photo: Curtis Blessing

The head of Philadelphia’s correctional officers union is urging City Controller Alan Butkovitz to reconsider his decision to not run for mayor this year.

Lorenzo North, president of Local 159, sent a letter to Butkovitz Wednesday, saying he should jump in the race because he has shown respect for Philadelphia’s unions and saved the city’s taxpayers “millions of dollars.” Local 159 is the biggest local in AFSCME District Council 33, the city’s blue-collar union.

“Philadelphia sorely needs the kind of leadership you have shown,” North writes in the letter, “and no other potential candidate has your track record of success.”

Butkovitz dropped his plans to run for mayor months ago. So why is North courting Butkovitz now?

North told us he sent a letter to Butkovitz this week because he is “concerned” about the quality of the current mayoral field.

Many labor leaders see Council President Darrell Clarke as their first pick for mayor, but he hasn’t said yet whether he’ll run. And, as time drags on, various political insiders are betting that Clarke ultimately won’t join in the race.

Butkovitz, meanwhile, was the second choice for many in the labor community. But the controller decided in November to not get into the race because, sources say, Clarke hadn’t announced his plans — making it all but impossible for Butkovitz to gain financial and logistical support from unions that viewed him as plan “B.”

All of which now leaves labor leaders like North in a jam.

“I only see two good potential candidates,” says North, “and that’s Clarke and Butkovitz.”

Reached by phone, Butkovitz did not seem likely change his mind barring something unforeseen, however.

“I’m really flattered and encouraged and appreciative of the support that Lorenzo North and so many people are offering,” says Butkovitz. “But the action I took was based on a tactical assessment of the race at that time, and it has not significantly changed.”

Lorenzo North’s letter to Alan Butkovitz