A very important message about the upcoming Philadelphia mayoral election by David Castro:
As Dante wrote sometime in the 13th century, the darkest places in
hell are reserved for those who try to preserve their neutrality in a
time of great moral crisis. Time to take a stand.
I’ll make this simple. Lynne Abraham should be the next mayor of Philadelphia.
a little about my perspective. I have been in public service since
1991, first for the City of Philadelphia in the District Attorney’s
Office, second, for the Commonwealth as the architect of the
Pennsylvania Weed and Seed Program, and third, through a nonprofit
organization that I founded with Lynne back in 1995 called I-LEAD (the
Institute for Leadership Education, Advancement & Development).
During my career I have worked closely with numerous public
officials, business leaders and community leaders. I have participated
in prominent national and international leadership programs, including
Eisenhower Fellowships, the Kellogg National Fellowship Program and,
most recently, Ashoka’s Fellowship Program (an international association
of leading social entrepreneurs). I have studied a broad spectrum of
leaders and public officials close up, including those in the governor’s
office. In addition to running successful businesses (with multiple
employees, grants, viable business models and multiple locations), I
have taught and practiced leadership development for more than 15 years.
I have worked for both Republicans and Democrats. During my life I
have been registered to the both parties at different times. From 1991
through 1995, I worked closely with Lynne in the Philadelphia District
Attorney’s Office, and also in conjunction with our philanthropic work
since that time. I have also worked for prominent Republicans in the
I am not commenting from the perspective of reading about Lynne
Abraham in the newspaper, but rather from personal, direct, daily
experience over many years, along with the ability to draw comparisons.
No one can fake or put a costume on her character over such a long time
frame in so many different situations.
Lynne demonstrates three critical qualities that no other candidate in the field possesses in sufficient measure.
First, and most importantly, she has absolute unwavering integrity,
a powerful moral compass unequaled in public life. She does not cut
corners and cannot be bought or influenced by the root of all evil in
politics—the private economic interests of the corrupt and powerful.
Lynne does not have a slippery or slick bone in her body. To anyone who
suggests that her long tenure in politics means that she practices
cronyism or is part of the corrupt system, I say, frankly, you are
misinformed. In fact, the number-one problem that she presents as a
candidate to the entrenched powerful forces surrounding Philadelphia
politics is this: her steel spine and independence. Remember her
legendary refusal to accept Rizzo’s hacks within the Redevelopment
Authority? Fire me, she said. That is character. During her career she
has stood up to the political machine again and again. Lynne Abraham is
not for sale and never will be.
Second, Lynne thinks big and is willing to take smart risks. Lynne is
the best-informed politician whom I have ever encountered, and I have
interacted with many. She reads broadly and voraciously; she is in
constant dialogue with many diverse policy experts; and she is willing
to think outside the box to tackle the difficult, entrenched problems
facing the Philadelphia community. She is the rare brilliant, highly
educated and learned person who also keeps her feet squarely on the
ground. Lynne can talk current science and classical music while eating a
hotdog and discussing the Flyers in the same conversation. She is both
book smart and street smart, while also retaining real humility and a
deep connection to the streets. She is and will always be a native
Philadelphian who really cares about the daily quality of life of each
Third, Lynne is an inspiring and experienced leader and manager; the
list of her awards and actual accomplishments as a leader dwarf those of
all the other candidates combined. Perhaps her best quality is the
willingness to engage smart, hard-working, creative and ethical people
in the mission of government. Many of the problems we face in
Philadelphia result from shoddy ethics combined with day-to-day lack of
diligence and competence. Lynne knows how to build a public culture with
high ethics, excellence, accountability, strong work ethic and
professionalism. Name a single competitor with such a long and ethically
unblemished career in public life today. At the Redevelopment Authority
and later as District Attorney, Lynne led a highly diverse staff (in
terms of race, ethnicity and gender) that demonstrated day in and day
out for more than two decades the highest commitment to ethics,
professionalism and competence.
In these three categories, Lynne Abraham is unmatched as candidate,
and they are the most critical qualities that the next mayor of
Philadelphia must possess.
Finally, let me address those who say that she is too old for the
job. Look again. Lynne has terrific health along with enormous energy
and passion for this work, more than most people half her age, and she
will combine that with something no other person in the field has in the
same plentiful measure: real wisdom born of long experience. Her age
also entails a powerful asset. She is not looking to line her pockets or
build her résumé for the next big thing. She will be 100 percent
focused on serving the people of Philadelphia, and on doing the right
things for the right reasons.
The only question remaining is whether Philadelphians have the wisdom
to select the best candidate from the field or whether they will they
settle for second best. Unfortunately, in this field, second best
presents the significant risk of settling for politics as usual with its
disheartening suitcase of cronyism, pay-to-play, substandard ethics and
selling communities down the river in the interest of personal
financial or political gain. You know I am telling the truth.
Philadelphia, just say no to all that, and vote for Lynne Abraham.
See, I told you it would be simple.
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