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Council speaks well of Nutter

Though none supported him in the primary, members offer praise the day after his win.

Council's president, said Nutter "has my full support."
Council's president, said Nutter "has my full support."Read more

When Michael Nutter resigned from City Council last year to announce his candidacy for mayor, his Council colleagues were conspicuous in their absence: not one showed up to endorse his run.

That was then.

Now, Council members have almost entirely good things to say about the city's likely next mayor. They readily recollect Nutter's accomplishments and legendary attention to detail. But the many moments when they found him stubborn and exasperating? Those memories have suddenly gone a little hazy.

"Michael and I go way back. We never had a bad day," said Frank DiCicco, who backed Bob Brady in the mayoral race.

"I worked with Michael for years, and we always had an absolutely wonderful working relationship," said Council President Anna Verna, another Brady backer.

"I think it's a good day," said Jannie Blackwell, Tom Knox's chief Council cheerleader.

Of course it makes good political sense to make nice with the Democratic Party's new standard-bearer, but there is more than that to the pro-Nutter noises now coming from Council.

Years of dysfunction between Mayor Street's office and the city's legislators have left Council members fervently hoping for a better relationship with the next mayor.

"I'm looking forward to being part of a team, to giving him the latitude he needs to put his policies in place," said Councilman Jim Kenney, who backed Brady in the election. "I want to start this term with a note of unanimity and teamwork that we haven't had."

Nutter seems anxious to do the same. He visited Verna in her offices yesterday, mere hours after winning the election.

"He wanted to assure me that we will work closely together, as when Ed Rendell was the mayor," Verna said. "He has my full support."

There is clearly an expectation - or perhaps just a hope - that Mayor Nutter will be better than Councilman Nutter when it comes to compromise, to sharing credit, and to humility.

"He'll mellow out," DiCicco predicted.

"I think he realizes he's just graduated to an entirely new level," agreed Republican Councilman Frank Rizzo, who pointed out that Nutter still must defeat GOP mayoral nominee Al Taubenberger.

Council members also are hoping that Nutter won't engage in the same sort of power politics that Street excels at. They predicted he would seek consensus or near-consensus, rather than split Council into pro- and anti-Nutter forces.

"Michael tries to be inclusive," said Councilwoman Marian Tasco, who backed State Rep. Dwight Evans in the mayor's race. "The Street model of controlling enough votes to block legislation was not helpful, and I don't think Michael will go in that direction."

Bill Green and Maria Quiñones Sanchez - who won Democratic nominations in Tuesday's vote - said yesterday that they expected to get along well with Nutter, whose reform-heavy message likely helped get them elected.

"I think he'd find it hard not to sign any bill I introduced," Green said of Nutter, when asked how their respective agendas matched.

Even Curtis Jones Jr., who appeared to have defeated Councilwoman Carol Campbell in the race for Nutter's old Fourth District Council seat, said yesterday that he respected Nutter and was looking forward to working with him.

Nutter had endorsed a third candidate in the race, Matt McClure.

"I don't hold that against him," Jones said. "That's politics. We're about to do policy."

Though no one on Council openly backed Nutter for mayor, many indicated throughout the race that they considered him an acceptable choice.

Longtime friendships and alliances kept Verna, DiCicco, Kenney and others loyal to Brady. The same applied for Tasco and Dwight Evans, and for Blondell Reynolds Brown and Chaka Fattah.

Tasco said Nutter would have had her vote, had Evans not been in the contest.

"It didn't have anything to do with Council members not liking him or not wanting to support him," she said. "It was these long-term relationships we had with the other candidates."

As Knox rose in the polls, Nutter looked better and better to many Council members.

But not to Blackwell, the majority leader. While she had kind words for Nutter yesterday, Blackwell said she did not regret backing Knox. Nutter, she predicted, was going to have a tough time balancing his desire for tax cuts with the city's service needs.

"It won't be easy," she said. "But he's a smart enough guy to figure it out. We'll see if he does."