Michael Nutter's best day in office: Greeting Pope Francis on the tarmac of Philadelphia International Airport. His worst: May 3, 2008, when Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski was killed, and each of the 12 other days when city employees died on the job.
"The great moments, again, far outweigh the bad ones," Nutter said. "But the bad ones were really bad."
I sat down with the mayor last week for a far-reaching interview as he prepares to leave office after eight years. Look for the full story in Sunday's Inquirer. And be sure to check back at philly.com for an accompanying video from our conversation.
But for now, here is a sampling of what Nutter has to say in his final days.
On his last year in office:
"I've kept a pretty regular eye on the calendar. So increasingly, time is a tremendously precious resource. You can never get back what you've used up. And what I've said to myself is OK, you know the date. You know what's going to happen on that date. Work backwards, for a bunch of things you need to get done. What can you finish up? What can be put into place to move along into the future? And I mean, you just have to accept that reality."
On the ethics reforms he instituted, and whether they have staying power:
"People in the city government, seeing some of the other craziness and madness going on nearby or across the state or whatever, if anyone thinks that somehow because of a change of administration the rules are going to be lessened or, you know, because Mayor Nutter is not going to be around maybe we can try some stuff, I think they're in for a rude awakening and they shouldn't try."
"It won't turn around overnight, and it wasn't created overnight. But it is the great challenge for this city. It is what ultimately is even still holding Philadelphia back and more importantly Philadelphians who have this locked in, vice-grip like, intergenerational poverty challenge. And for some it's deep poverty. That's about education. That's about health. It's about literacy. It's about employment, unemployment, job skills, reentry, people with previous criminal records and alike and a bad combination of those things all together."
On his legacy:
"You and many others will write all about that. And people will think whatever they think. I think for me it's that he was a true public servant, cared about people, told us what he was going to do and did it. And made this city a better place than it was when he found it, and handed it off in better shape as a result. … That Mayor Nutter was a steady, forceful, clear leader in a time of crisis. And continued to move this city forward while tackling some of the toughest problems anyone has seen in 60, 70 years. I'd take that."