Rue Landau Gets Around Inside City Hall Using a Razor Scooter

And other things you might not know about this first-term member of City Council.

Rue Landau

Rue Landau / Photograph by Stevie Chris

In November, Rue Landau made history when she became the first openly gay person elected to City Council in Philadelphia. Here, she talks chemistry class, her mad Skee-Ball skills, and working at McDonald’s.

My first name is actually … Ruthellen. My grandmother’s name was Ruth. And I became Ruthellen.

I decided to go with a nickname that means “bitter regret” … in grade school, before I realized the meaning.

I grew up in … Cheltenham.

My worst subject at Cheltenham High  was … chemistry. I couldn’t get past the concept of  a mole being a unit of measurement. That was it for me.

Now, I live in … Bella Vista, two blocks from my twin sister and her family and surrounded by so much great eating.

The best movie or TV show about politics is … Veep. It shows both the comedy and the reality.

My first job in life was … at the Abington McDonald’s. The polyester uniforms at McDonald’s were just awful. I worked the front counter, the kitchen and the drive-through window. I’m a multi-faceted person.

I met the love of my life … in New York City, at a friend’s birthday party. Kerry was living in Boston, I was in Philly, and we had a long-distance relationship for a couple of years before I told her I was geographically inflexible. Then we got the first same-sex marriage license in Pennsylvania.

The first concert I recall attending was … Genesis, at the Spectrum. The second was Prince.

My report card for Mayor Parker thus far is … that class is still in session.

For Mayor Kenney … C. Actually, I gotta go lower than a C. Actually, maybe we should skip this one.

The question I’m asked the most by constituents is … how do I get into affordable housing? It’s complicated, but we do what we can to help.

Working at City Hall every day is … amazing. The building is so beautiful and historic and holds so many stories from the past. But the hallways are soooo long. So I zip around on a Razor scooter.

This summer … I’m going to take a vacation with Kerry and our son, Eli. We all want to work on our Spanish, so a Spanish-speaking country.

One book everyone should read cover-to-cover is … The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein. I was sworn in on it instead of any kind of Bible. It’s about how the federal government intentionally used laws and politics to segregate American and remove opportunities from African Americans to gain wealth. I taught it when I was teaching at Temple Law.

My staffers would describe me as … everyone’s Jewish mother.

The hardest thing about my job is … the pace. There is no downtime.

One game you will not beat me at is … Skee-Ball. And I love Wordle.

My son is always asking me for … money.

When I was a little kid, I wanted to grow up to be … a food scientist. I have no idea where I came up with that. Other than that I love food.

Most people would be surprised to know that … I can ride a unicycle.

The last time I had a cheesesteak was … when I was 16. I’ve been a vegetarian since then. I do love the vegan cheesesteak at Royal Tavern, though my favorite vegan food would have to be at Vedge. I’m biased: The chef, Rich Landau, is my brother. But my son is a real meat-eater and a great cook. He cooks so much meat. He’s a protein brah.

I celebrated my election last November by … singing “We Are the Champions” with my campaign staff at two in the morning at Woody’s.

I am deathly afraid of … heights. Done. Period.

When out-of-town friends visit Philly, I always take them to … the LOVE sculpture. And then we go on a long walk to Mother Bethel Church and many other historic sites, including the President’s House. Of course, we have to stop at the Reading Terminal to get a little of everything Philadelphia has to offer.

To the 53,251 residents who’ve left Philly since 2020, I say … change is on the way. C’mon back. I have tremendous hope in the future of Philadelphia.

Published as “One of Us: Rue Landau” in the June 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.