DN Editorial: Nutter for mayor

Posted: October 31, 2011

MAYOR NUTTER doesn't need our endorsement, or anyone else's. He's running for re-election against a candidate taken about as seriously as the party she's running in, at least in this town.

Which is not to say Nutter is entirely unopposed. But among the opposition that he has confronted since taking office - some unions, some members of Council, among others- the biggest he has faced is the economy, which tanked months after his election. The fact that the city has seen gains on a number of fronts, and continues to show signs of health, can be credited to his time in office, and why we easily endorse Nutter's reelection.

There are those who contend that the Nutter administration has fallen short of the "New Day, New Way" that his 2007 election promised: a forward-thinking ethical city whose problems-homicides, poverty, education - would be tackled with smart and modern approaches.

The fact is Nutter's job changed quickly after election, from managing a city to managing a crisis. He confronted the steep revenue shortfalls, as well as big cuts from the state without massive layoffs, but with hikes in sales tax and multiple property tax hikes. Those weren't popular, but consider: according to the League of Cities, to cope with the economy, two in five cities increased fees for services and one in four increased the number of fees. One in five also hiked property taxes in 2011.

Despite these woes, Nutter has made inroads on some of our intractable problems. His commitment to a more ethical City Hall is serious.

He responded swiftly to teen mobs, and the homicide rate has seen steady decline. He has kept his focus on creating a green city, from which an innovative plan for stormwater runoff could be a model for the nation.

Perhaps most notably, his administration has stepped up to the plate on education. Though still under state control, education belongs in the leadership portfolio of the mayor. Nutter has provided both funding and attention, and in the process, forged stronger relationships with Harrisburg. His push for higher graduation rates and college attainment has borne fruit.

Nutter's first term wasn't a slam dunk. Expired city contracts, and pension problems, are still unresolved. So is full valuation, although Nutter's breakup of the BRT deserves credit. The administration has evolved a bunker mentality, that has too often set City Council and the administration at odds. Which is why we're heartened by the recent embrace of business tax reforms pushed by Maria Quinones Sanchez and Bill Green.

Nutter's second term will be no cakewalk. The economy is still shaky, and the fact we lead the nation in poverty among cities promises a host of new and complex problems.

Nutter's effectiveness in a crisis, and grace under pressure, should serve him well.

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