I support Michael Nutter. I voted for him in the primary, and I will vote for him in the general election in November. You should too, even though his sham competition with Republican challenger Al Taubenberger leaves virtually no chance for a Nutter defeat, considering Philly has an 8 to 1 Democratic majority.
Regardless, Mr. Nutter is a candidate of integrity and intelligence who will hopefully help Philadelphia turn a much-needed corner. He needs as big a vote of confidence as this city can give, even if it is in an election that was basically decided months ago.
In a city that has endured all too many ineffective or dictatorial mayors – think Wilson Goode and Frank Rizzo – I truly believe Michael Nutter is possibly the last great hope for Philadelphia. So nothing is more pressing than plans he might have for Temple.
Temple is the only economic engine in North Philadelphia with the potential to spread its wealth to surrounding neighborhoods. Bridging the campus with Center City is a tantalizingly close goal. But, such revitalization hinges on cooperation between Temple administration and City Hall.
In this spirit, I approached the Nutter campaign in hopes the candidate would have begun releasing policy statements regarding economic development on North Broad Street. Unfortunately, a spokeswoman for the campaign told me that at this time there are “no specific plans for Temple University.”
In fact, according to this Nutter staffer, no specific plans have been made for any of Philadelphia’s many large and influential universities.
I understand Nutter is still busily progressing down the campaign trail. He has gone great lengths to make it clear that he does not presume victory in November, possibly out of politeness to the Philadelphia GOP.
However, the future of a vast quadrant of the city is not something that can be politely set aside for later. Speaking as a student and a resident of the area, the future development of Temple should be a major campaign issue, and something that any potential mayor is already thinking about. The priorities Nutter sets now will likely be the same priorities that follow him into his term as mayor, and Temple must be near the top of that list.
Universities are obviously major assets to the city; this has long since been established and accepted by almost every politician in the city. This university alone has a $2.7 billion impact on the city’s economy, according to a 2005 study commissioned by Temple.
What has been missing for too long is a unified plan between the mayor’s office and the city’s universities to combine assets and increase residential and commercial growth. The University of Pennsylvania has run its University City fiefdom with near autonomy, only recently making major overtures to join with Center City. Temple has made its own stumbling gestures to improve its home territory and reach out to the city, but it has neither the monetary resources nor the influence of Penn to do so on its own. Temple needs good planning and cooperation with the City to capitalize on its position as a driving force in North Philadelphia.
The onus lies on Nutter to do his part to facilitate this end. His legacy may depend on it.
Ryan Briggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.