Rebecca Rhynhart joins the race for mayor in Philadelphia
She tendered her resignation to Mayor Jim Kenney in the morning, before the workday started, Rhynhart said.
Former Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart announced on Tuesday, Oct. 25, that she is resigning from her current role as Philadelphia’s finance watchdog and joining an increasingly competitive race for Mayor during a press briefing in West Philadelphia.
Before she was elected as the city’s first female city controller in 2018, Rhynhart served under two mayoral administrations managing the city’s budget at several levels of government. That experience, Rhynhart said, would equip her to “turn audits into action, proposals into policy, and recommendations into results that make life better for Philadelphians.”
“She really wants to see change,” said Sister Taleah Taylor, President of the City of Dreams coalition, and added she was “in full support” of Rhynhart’s bid. “Over the years she has shown nothing but integrity. Over and over again, on every situation,” Taylor remarked.
Rhynhart’s first event as a mayoral hopeful took place in Nichols Park, in West Philadelphia, and addressed concerns over the city’s mismanagement of the gun violence that deeply affects its residents. Rhynhart noted she chose Nichols Park because within a few block radius, it’s one of the areas most affected by gun violence.
“I’ve put forth thoughtful solutions to fix our city’s problems, so that our government works the way it should; but as Controller, that is where the power of my office ends,” Rhynhart said after she underscored her urging to the mayor's office, and inability to produce executive results because of her office’s scope.
Last week, the City Controller’s office released a comprehensive spending report which examined the city’s budget for policing, which found staffing issues, slow response times, and inconsistent strategies.
In the report’s opening letter to the Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, Rhynhart cited the need to “strategically allocate resources in a way that is responsive to the voiced concerns and needs of the community it serves.”
The 85-page audit revealed budget planning based on historical data and evaluated it against other departments reviewed, though those are not specified. In another case, Rhynhart’s report details a “lack of accountability” in Heart and Lung, a benefit allocated for disabled personnel who are unable to work on the force.
“[Rebecca Rhynhart] has been on the forefront fighting crime from the City Controller’s office. You see her on the news a lot trying to deal with this blood that’s running down the street like water,” said Kevin Horn, a community advocate who was personally invited by Rhynhart.
“She’s a person that took the bull by the horn and challenged the mayor on what should be done in the city, and then she decided to run for mayor and do it herself. I commend her for that,” Horn continued.
Rhynhart’s sentiments on the subject of gun violence are not isolated. They are a part of a widespread call by other mayoral candidates — many of whom have lambasted Kenney for his office’s approach to addressing it effectively — and have varying ideas on how to reign it in.
Cherelle Parker, a former City Council member who turned in her resignation to run for Mayor, told AL DÍA the city needed strong leadership and said she would “reach into every tool of government” to tackle gun violence. She did not specify whether she would consider declaring a state of emergency.
“That leadership has to be willing to make the tough decisions that will be necessary to move Philadelphia forward,” Parker said.
María Quiñones-Sánchez, another former City Council member, noted how, in her view, the city’s crime-ridden reality is governed by poverty, and wants to tackle violence “at its root.”
“It’s important to recognize that not all communities receive the same attention or adequate investments (...) When we talk about creating opportunities in districts like the one I represent, it’s a cost, and we have to change this mentality,” Quiñones-Sánchez told AL DÍA in a previous interview.
“If we take care of our most vulnerable, and we provide them with quality of life, you can live in a low-income community in a clean, secure, and dignified way. But that takes investment,” she added.
When asked what immediate, executive actions she would take to address gun crime in office, Rhynhart, noted a multi-pronged approach, notably, consequences for those who pursue a “life of violence” and course correction. Responding to AL DÍA, she did not specify what immediate concrete actions she would take.
But Rhynhart and Quiñones-Sánchez agree on violence borne of poverty and inequity. Rhynhart, in her speech, evoked the disparity between wealthy and affluent neighborhoods, and the violence that results from that gap.
“Too often, in city services, there are inequities. That neighborhoods that are wealthier, whiter, get better services, and that’s not right,” Rhynhart remarked while disparaging the “status quo.” It is worth noting that, in Rhynhart’s police reporting, she found a gap between the highest-performing response times per district.
What she found was that “the districts that experienced the longest dispatch times consistently across all priority events are concentrated in the city’s Black and Brown communities.”
Her record on supervising the bombshell report puts Rhynhart ahead of the fray, along with Cherelle Parker, for candidates who’ve resorted to materializing their strategies in their respective areas of government.
But Rhynhart may trail behind in campaign financing and will need to vie for deep-pocket donors.
“You’re absolutely right. I’m not self-funded,” Rhynhart noted.
“I’m not perhaps known to be funded by any particular group. But I think that’s where my strength is. I have a track record of raising money,” said Rhynhart, and added her winning streak against the previous Controller, an incumbent.
“In the end, it’s about the people’s vote,” she responded. She did not specify the outline for her campaign’s financing apparatus.
Rhynhart was joined onstage by her husband and daughter. Following her announcement, Rhynhart began a walking tour, beginning in West Philly.