Elsewhere in this section, the five candidates for mayor of Philadelphia tell you what they think leadership looks like.
Over the last week or so, I've listened as hundreds of Philadelphians talked about what kind of leadership they seek out of City Hall.
At 10 Deliberation Days forums around the city, as part of the Great Expectations project, we asked citizens to describe the leadership traits that matter to them.
In a separate exercise, we also asked them to free associate about the five candidates, calling out the first words or phrases that popped into their heads as they heard the names Bob Brady, Dwight Evans, Chaka Fattah, Tom Knox and Michael Nutter. The results of that bit of fun can be found in the accompanying box.
Let me review some general themes that ran through the discussions on leadership:
The Woody Allen Factor: The bespectacled sage of Manhattan once opined that 80 percent of success is just showing up. Philadelphians want a mayor who shows up, who is visible, who wants to be there when a neighborhood reaches a milestone or endures a crisis.
The Whole City Hope: The phrase comes up again and again - "a mayor of the whole city." It crops up on both sides of the class/income divide. People want a mayor who can speak to both sides, who can build upon the energy and glamor of Center City, while never forgetting the one-quarter of his constituents who live at or below the poverty line. They don't see as inevitable a politics that pits the well-off against the poor. They want a mayor who cares about both condo dwellers and the homeless.
The Round Table Effect: People want a mayor who can attract able people of diverse views to work with him - and who will actually solicit and consider those diverse views before taking action. And someone who can - imagine that - delegate.
The Vision Thing: Sure, everybody talks about "vision," but many Great Expectations participants defined it carefully. They saw it as a willingness to embrace tasks of great importance to the city that will take more than the four- to eight-year political horizon of a mayor. They want a leader who respects the city's history, but isn't trapped in its past ways of doing things. They also grasp that vision has to be yoked to focus for it to be effective. "Visionary but tactical" is how one voter put it.
The Rah-Rah Yen: Cheerleading is not fluff, in the eyes of many very serious citizens. They see it as essential work to change the city's outside image and internal attitude, to galvanize citizens to rally 'round a vision. They have felt its lack since Ed Rendell trundled off to Harrisburg.
The Rage against the Machine: Citizens want a leader who is more worried about what they think and need than what the usual suspects of city politics want. They thirst for clean government with an intensity that has caught those usual suspects by surprise this election season. Citizens see that the next mayor will need a full helping of guts and integrity to clean up the stable.
The Love and Laughter Combo: Several people said they want a mayor who clearly loves his city - and knows how to make that feeling contagious. And many feel that a sense of humor, a little personality, would really help in that quest.
Do any of the five candidates fully fit this bill? Not really. No one individual could. But these are the citizen standards the winner must strive to meet.
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At Great Expectations forums earlier this month, participants played "free association" on the Philadelphia mayoral candidates. As each of the five names was called out, citizens said the first words or phrases that popped into their heads. The results were varied and interesting, giving a peek inside voters' heads as a topsy-turvy campaign heads to the finish line. Here's a representative sampling of responses about each man:
Man of his word. Mediator. Corrupt. Part of the problem. Compromiser. Union. Boss. Connections. Big chunk of a man. Rizzo Lite. Dinosaur. Why is he in race? Building trades. Flamboyant. Machine. Blue collar. Deal-maker. Status quo. Rizzo without the baggage. Bully. Inarticulate. Entrenched. Loyal to a fault. Old boy network. Joe Sixpack. Returns calls. Surprisingly progressive on gay issues. Pol. Hack. All right guy. Extrovert. Funny. Likable. Uninspired. Nepotism. Not educated. Charming. Shrewd. Pork. Nice guy. There when you need a friend.
Done a great job in district. Underdog. Visionary. Sincere. Shows up. Committed. Capable. Determined. Should stay where he is. Respected. Creative. Gave us casinos. Big on education. Not a good speaker. West Oak Lane. Ogontz Avenue. Excellent in Harrisburg, should stay. Charter schools. Supermarkets. Nice guy. Innovative. Angry. What's with this table of his? Feisty. George Foreman. Savvy. Dedicated. Knowledgeable. Too confrontational. Hurt the schools. Will lose. Deserves more credit. Cassandra. Canary in mineshaft. He cares but doesn't connect with audience. Would be great mayor. Stay in Harrisburg, Dwight.
Classic politician. Arrogant. Wants to come home. Narrow focus. Superficial. Empty suit. Laid-back. Shady. Big-picture guy. Slick. Another John Street. Fat and 50. Out of touch. Too comfortable. Hot air. "His smirk drives me nuts." Says what I care about isn't important to him. Concerned about poverty. Bright. Mumia. Cheshire cat. Should stay in Washington. "I like his mother; she should run." Renee. Self-centered. All about education. Experienced. Excellent airport idea. Too far left. Asked a question, and says, "Go look at my Web site." Nice suits. Full of himself. Undistinguished. Got many kids into college. Evasive. Good on gun control. Broad and shallow understanding.
Family man. Rigid. "Where'd he come from?" Awkward. Straight shooter. Economic knowledge. Doesn't owe anyone. Rich. Money, money, money. Fort Knox. Man with vision. Phony. Expedient. Bright. Bloomberg Lite. Needs Dale Carnegie Course. Dull. Can't be bought. Bumbler. Unprepared. Too eager. Close to business interests. Out of touch. Bought his way in. Fiscally responsible. Believes in himself. Genuine. Fake. Spineless. Dictatorial. Wants to own team. Contradiction. Articulate. Predatory lender. Monopolizer. Inexperienced. Good to his mother. Cold. Anti-social. Like Corzine. Skeletons in closet. Would shake things up. Reformer. Outsider, and that's a good thing. Credibility under fire.
Not a people person. Gets his way. Stubborn. Gave something up to run. Integrity. Dad. Olivia. Experienced. Smart. Educated. Brainy. Brainiac. Arrogant. Hard worker. Never missed a meeting. Honest. From "The Prep." Responsive. Wannabe. Prickly when challenged. Sticks with convictions. Original ideas. "I'm not impressed." Articulate. Self-righteous. Polished. Good government. Technocrat. Inflexible. Impatient. Serious. Aloof. Anti-Street. "Get rid of the goatee, Mike." No negative ads. Wonk. Smoking ban. Level-headed. Underdog. Dull. Doesn't pander. No charisma. Not a team player. Does his homework. Too serious. Independent. Kermit the Frog. Gets it. The best. Actually answers questions. Micromanager. Progressive. Nerdy. Against the machine.