WE THINK it's time for this city to finally face up to a serious problem: The 2015 field of candidates for mayor is sort of boring.

Be brave Philly. There is a cure.

Former City Controller Jonathan Saidel, a man so frenetic at the political podium that the Democratic City Committee uses him as an unofficial master of ceremonies, says there is a chance he will run for mayor.

Saidel, who told us in November he was giving the campaign some thought, now says he is being courted by elected officials and labor unions - he won't name names - to get in the race.

Saidel puts the odds at 60-40 against him running for mayor.

"If I was a betting man, I would bet I'm not running," said Saidel, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2010 and briefly for the U.S. House in 2013.

It's no coincidence that support has heated up for Saidel since City Council President Darrell Clarke announced Monday that he would not run for mayor.

Some players in that crowd were expected to back City Controller Alan Butkovitz for mayor if Clarke didn't run.

Butkovitz, citing uncertainty about Clarke's plans, in November dropped his plans to enter the race for mayor. He is now being courted by unions to reconsider.

We hear Butkovitz met yesterday with representatives from AFSCME's national headquarters at the offices of Local 1199C, which represents hospital and health-care workers.

For now, the declared Democratic candidates make the race a staid, even somnolent, affair.

Maybe we're spoiled. Consider the news clips from eight years ago this week, when the Mayor's Office was up for grabs.

Councilman Michael Nutter, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and state Rep. Dwight Evans turned heads when each released their annual campaign-finance reports - three weeks early - so they could brag that they had $1 million-plus in the bank.

Money isn't everything. Street cred can be currency, too.

A day after the early finance reports, Evans and U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah went public with stories about being wounded in shootings as young men.

And the current field for the May 19 Democratic primary?

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams? The likely front-runner has a good, wonkish sense of humor. That only goes so far.

Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham? She shoots from the hip for sure but we've heard that rat-a-tat-tat before.

Former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo? Cautious and pragmatic, his biggest hit so far has been raising questions about the stuff Abraham has been saying.

Former City Solicitor Nelson Diaz? Zzzzzzz. Oh, wait. What? He declared yesterday? Zzzzzzz.

NE Philly pols at odds

State Sen. Mike Stack III, who will be sworn in as lieutenant governor Tuesday, is pushing longtime friend and political ally John Del Ricci as the Democratic candidate for a March 24 special election to fill the vacant 170th state House seat in Northeast Philly.

That seat is vacant because Brendan Boyle moved to the U.S. House this month.

Boyle and his brother, state Rep. Kevin Boyle, want Seth Kaplan for the 170th seat.

Stack is in the driver's seat here. The district covers the 58th, 66A and 66B wards in the city's most northeastern reaches.

Stack, leader of the 58th Ward, has the most divisions in the 170th District so he has a majority vote over the other two ward leaders, one of whom works for him.

Del Ricci works for the state Turnpike Commission during the day and for Councilman Jim Kenney part time at night.

Kaplan, who works for Kevin Boyle, said he is seriously considering an independent bid for the seat if Stack picks Del Ricci.

The numbers are interesting.

The Republicans have picked Martina White, a financial adviser, for the special election.

While Democrats have a 7-1 voter-registration advantage on Republicans citywide, that drops to 2-1 in the 170th District, a place where voters are known to cross partisan lines at the ballot box.

So a special election, usually a slam-dunk for Democrats, could be a jump ball in a three-way race.

State House Speaker Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, must like his chances. Why else would he call a special election 56 days before the May 19 primary election?

The state, which picks up the tab, reimbursed the city $168,558 to hold a similar special election in 2011 for a House seat.

Happy Holiday$

It has been less than a year since the city's Democratic ward leaders selected Ed Neilson for a Council at-large special election he easily won. And Neilson knows how to say thanks.

Neilson sent out Christmas cards last month to ward leaders, staffers and community leaders.

The cards, 60 in all, contained a $100 Visa gift card.

"The small gifts are perfectly legal and ethical and will be duly reported on my next campaign finance report," Neilson said, calling our tipster a "Grinch."

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN