Alexander L.

"Pete" Hoskins

is board president of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance

and past board president

of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance

Now is Philadelphia's time.

Once again, our city is knocking on the door of greatness. We attract visitors from all over the world. Nearly 70 regional organizations have signed on to the Next Great City's agenda of specific, doable initiatives. Citizens crowd into forums to hear and talk to candidates running for mayor and City Council, many of whom understand how to achieve greatness.

But many cities compete fiercely for this coveted title. To reach the playoffs, contestants first need to understand the game. Number one: Successful players are not only cities, but regions. To compete, Philadelphia must work with our neighboring counties. Democratic, Republican, city, suburban, business, foundation, institutional and individual leaders must pursue strategies that take full advantage of each of our strengths to contribute to our shared goal.

Second, we must recognize that winning requires both a strong offense and defense. Super Bowls are won by teams that can stop their opponents. Similarly, a great city must stop violence and crime and keep its people safe. All the best arts, culture, education and park systems in the world will not make the city safe.

Philadelphia has a powerful offense, due to billions of dollars invested over the last three centuries in historic institutions, public land and architecture. No new city can replicate such assets. Our art and music institutions are rightly world renowned. Our schools and universities have enormous intellectual talent and energy. Our public parks and rich architecture have few peers. With these players on our side, we can move the ball like few cities to add tremendous economic value and give citizens across the region reason to support us with their families, their homes, and their jobs.

On defense, we must work hard together to make the entire region not just a safe place, but a haven for all. We should not settle for anything less.

Here again, we have many assets. Although there is the temptation toward short-term solutions on the back of a heavily burdened criminal system, our mayoral and City Council candidates each understand the need for more comprehensive approaches. They know our neighborhoods are major sources of strength, and they know we must work with our suburban neighbors.

All of us need to support the candidates as long as they keep their eyes on the same ball we all need to carry us to the victorious place of America's next great city. A Super Bowl would then not be a consolation prize, but just another well-deserved win.

Contact Alexander L. (Pete) Hoskins at petehoskins@earthlink.net.