TOM KNOX and Jannie Blackwell exchanged political vows in front of the Lucien E. Blackwell Homes in West Philadelphia yesterday, pledging to work hand in glove if given the reins of municipal power.
Knox as mayor, Blackwell as City Council president.
Though the two leaders barely know one another, each said they know enough to make common cause in the May 15 primary with Knox harping on his call to wash the evils of "pay to play" from City Hall and Blackwell focused on education, housing and the homeless.
Blackwell conceded they lack a long-term relationship, though both grew up in public housing. "In fact that's what makes it the better," she said of their new political alliance.
Neither sidestepped Knox's self-proclaimed reformer credentials and Blackwell's decades as a City Hall insider. She made no attempt to conceal her displeasure with the new Board of Ethics, no-bid contracting laws and campaign-finance measures, all changes that Knox praised.
Confronted with the oddity of his call for squeaky-clean government and Blackwell's reservations, Knox said, "She votes her conscience and that's what I like about her. I think she's going to do the right thing for Philadelphia not just some of the time, not just most of the time but all of the time."
What both of them share, Blackwell said, was a reflexive dislike of "politics as usual." Both want to shake government up "in new and exciting directions," she said.
Asked whether theirs was a marriage of convenience in order to help Knox get African-American votes and Blackwell attain the Council presidency, Knox said: "That's not true. I have more black votes than two of the black candidates combined."
Blackwell responded: "Convenience is OK. It's all right. Any way it comes is all right. My people will support Tom Knox."
With Council candidates Matt Ruben and Vern Anastasio nearby, Knox said he and Blackwell will have a reform ticket.
Though Knox did not identify his entire slate of Council candidates at the event, his campaign earlier had announced his team, saying they were all "committed to putting an end to pay-to-play politics in Philadelphia."
Only two at-large incumbents made the list, Juan Ramos and Blondell Reynolds-Brown. Knox also selected three challengers, mayoral sons Bill Green and Sharif Street, and Northern Liberties activist Matt Ruben.