John Kromer, the city housing director under former Mayor Ed Rendell, announced his candidacy for sheriff yesterday with an unusual goal: dismantling the Sheriff's Office and folding its duties into other city agencies and the court system.
Kromer, 62, a Mount Airy resident who works as a consultant on housing and economic-development issues, had been considering the sheriff's race for most of the last year.
He said that he made a firm decision to seek the Democratic nomination about two months ago, after City Controller Alan Butkovitz announced that he would hire forensic accountants to investigate the financial records of retiring Sheriff John Green.
"I felt the reports from the city controller just couldn't be ignored," Kromer said last night. "They show a level of waste and mismanagement beyond what I anticipated."
Green announced plans to retire last year and gave up the job at the end of December, allowing Gov. Rendell to appoint Green's deputy, Barbara Deeley, as acting sheriff. It remains unclear whether the incoming governor, Tom Corbett, will stick with Deeley or nominate someone else for confirmation by the Republican-controlled state Senate.
State Rep. Jewell Williams, a Democratic ward leader, is thought to be the front-running candidate among fellow ward leaders.
Kromer is a former Democratic committeeman in West Philadelphia, and managed the successful citywide campaign of former City Councilman Ed Schwartz. But he says that he worries less about organization support and more about delivering a message to voters.
"It's important to show the connection between a poorly managed Sheriff's Office and the 17,000 properties in the city that are vacant and tax-delinquent," Kromer said.