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Nutter ready to 'weigh in on big issues'

Saying it's not too early to think about governing, he plans to let Street and Council know his stands.

Michael Nutter doesn't want to sound presumptuous.

The Democratic mayoral nominee knows he still has a general-election campaign to run against Republican Al Taubenberger. He knows that John Street will occupy the office on the second floor of City Hall until January.

But yesterday, the day after his primary victory, Nutter said he wanted current policy-makers to know exactly where he stood on the major topics that will arise between now and then.

So he plans to speak out on those issues and talk with Street and City Council members, giving them every opportunity to take his views into account.

"I think it's part of my obligation . . . to respectfully weigh in on big issues," Nutter said, mentioning such matters as the city budget and the search for a new school district chief. "I think it's also important that I stay in consultation with the elected officials in the city and that we don't create confusion."

In addition, the former councilman said, he intends to use the time until November - a period of "limbo or suspended animation," he called it - to prepare to govern, without picking out office furniture or offering jobs.

"I think it would be a tremendous mistake to only think about governing in the context of November to January," Nutter said. "It's an incredible amount of time, in an appropriate fashion, to start thinking about . . . how I hit the ground running."

Nutter said he had not made any plans of any kind beyond the primary. And yesterday, it showed.

His first day as the city's presumed next mayor was a chaotic mix of interviews, congratulatory phone calls, spurts of handshaking with supporters, outdoor calisthenics with volunteers from City Year, a brief nap, and a courtesy visit to Council President Anna C. Verna.

Party chairman?

The sleep-deprived Nutter did not meet with Street, his longtime political foe; Street spent much of the day in New York City with other mayors at a climate summit.

On Tuesday night, though, Street called to offer congratulations and assistance, a move Nutter called "tremendously kind and gracious."

Nutter did not have answers yesterday to a number of questions that he soon will have to answer.

Will he retain U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, one of the also-rans Tuesday, as city Democratic chair?

Before the election, Nutter told the Inquirer Editorial Board: "I look forward to the wonderful opportunity to make changes in the Democratic Party."

Yesterday, he said he wanted the party to be more open and inclusive, particularly when recruiting and selecting candidates. At the same time, he praised Brady, saying how much he valued his work and support.

Nutter said he had not "given a lot of thought" to Brady's future as chairman.

Interim income?

Will he try to figure out a way to generate some personal income between now and November?

Nutter has not had any since Oct. 31, when he left Econsult, a University City public-policy firm where he was on the payroll for three months.

"We were a two-income family," said Nutter, whose wife, Lisa, runs a nonprofit working to focus high school students on careers. "Now we're a one-income family."

While he'd like to change that before Jan. 1, he said, he realizes that winning the primary makes taking on any kind of salaried position "a little more complicated," and that he has plenty of work to do as a candidate.

"There's still food in the refrigerator," he said. "Nobody's chasing us" with bills.

Beyond that, Nutter said it was premature to talk about what his initial priorities as mayor might be. But he said he was aware that much was expected of a candidate who promised change.

"It raises the bar. It sets higher expectations," he said. "I want people to have high expectations because that's going to push us . . . force the administration to have higher standards and do things better. I think low expectations are a bad thing for government."

For a Tom Gralish slide show on 36 hours with Michael Nutter, visit