Sam Katz and Bill Green Won’t Run for Council After All

Their flirtation with creating a new opposition party comes to an end.

School Reform Commissioner Bill Green and three-time mayoral candidate Sam Katz have decided against running as a two-man slate for City Council at-large in November’s election.

This wasn’t an idle flirtation. They were seriously considering the possibility as recently as Wednesday morning.

Katz wrote in an email that “politics is critical but there are other ways I hope to continue to move the city forward.” He said he was “gratified” that “so many Philadelphians” encouraged him and Green — who he praised as a “dedicated and talented leader” — to “create an independent party.”

“There is a lot of fuel left in my gas tank.  I won’t be a candidate but I have no plans to disappear,” Katz wrote.

Green wrote that he’s “always believed” that “providing educational opportunities to Philadelphia’s children would make a bigger impact in Philadelphia than anything else.” Then there are the pragmatic considerations. “Without multiple voices like mine on Council I would be spitting into the wind, sometimes, but rarely, effectively,” Green wrote. “My highest and best use is on the SRC at this point.”

As Citified reported Sunday, a successful Green-Katz candidacy would have been a pretty big deal, with the potential to fundamentally change the dynamics on Council. If they had success, it might have led to the formation of an enduring new local political party.

But those were pretty big woulds and ifs.

Their decision not to run means little to the five Democratic candidates for Council at-large, who probably would win their seats even if they ran against a reanimated Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt, given the overwhelming Democratic allegiance of Philadelphia voters. But the City Charter reserves two of seven Council seats for representatives from the non-majority party — a wrinkle that would have made Green and Katz, who have much larger profiles than the other non-Democratic candidates, formidable. So their decision not to run is good news for Republican at-large incumbents Dennis O’Brien and David Oh. It’s also a welcome development for GOP challengers Terry Tracy, Dan Tinney and Al Taubenberger. The exit of Katz and Green also enhances the prospects of Independent at-large challenger Andrew Stober.

City Council will still have several new faces come January, such as Helen Gym, Allan Domb and Cherelle Parker, at minimum. But there’s little question that the addition of Green and Katz to that corps of incoming Council members would have shaken up Council even more.