Fast Eddie made a fast exit. At a meet-the-candidates forum last night, all three of Philadelphia's major mayoral candidates gave short speeches and mingled with students to answer questions. All but Democratic candidate Edward Rendell, that is, who after giving a polished, five-minute speech, quickly left the forum. Denise Wolf, chairperson of PPU, added that Rendell's lead in the polls might have led to his exit. "Rendell . . . has the election in the bag. We're expendable in his eyes, unfortunately," Wolf said. Reilly added that Rendell's assistants gave no reason for Rendell's brusque exit. Despite Rendell's unplanned departure, the organizers of the event said the gathering was a success. Reilly said she was "pleased with the turnout" of over 100 people, and also with the number of voters who were in the Castle crowd. In another break with the planned format, Republican Joseph Egan arrived late, prompting a twenty-minute gap in the middle of the program. Beginning by saying that "Philadelphia is at a crossroads," Rendell proceeded with a carefully worded speech primarily dealing with the city's economic problems and education. Rendell said the city is in such dire economic straits that innovations without expenditure are the only answer. For example, in education Rendell proposed to install a health clinic into every high school in the city, to add counseling at all levels and to implement programs for latch-key children. Contrasting Rendell's carefully executed, issue-oriented speech, was independent candidate Dennis Wesley's attack on the "ethical corruption" of city government and the Republican party machine, the Philadelphia press, and the New York-based sources of Rendell's campaign funds. Wesley said the city spends millions of dollars on legal consulting while already having sufficient legal resources in the City Solicitor's office. He also questioned the "40 straight years" of city contracts awarded to Republican party boss William Meehan. "This [Meehan] is a Republican. You know how the Democrats are making out," Wesley said. On the topic of the University paying user fees to the city, Wesley succinctly said, "Oh yes, you got to pay." Wesley mingled with students while the group waited for Egan to arrive. Egan, who was picked by Republican leadership to replace the late Frank Rizzo, said the city's workforce and electorate must be made enthusiastic about the city. But he also said voters should "hold accountable" the Democrats after 40 years in power. "The city is bankrupt fiscally and morally. The work force is totally demoralized," Egan said. Egan did not outline specific programs, but he did call for a change in the City Charter and "Peace Corps in the city." American Civilization Lecturer Frank Luntz, who teaches a class on political consulting, said after the presentations that there was another dimension behind Wesley's independent candidacy besides his desire to change the city. "What the students don't understand is what you saw from Wesley was set up from the Rizzo campaign to divide the [Democratic] vote and get a win for Rizzo," he said. Wharton junior Steven Foecking did not think that the session was very informational. But he was able to form opinions about the individual candidates at the forum, which was co-sponsored by the PPU, Connaissance, and the Castle's Community Service Living-Learning Program. Reflecting the sentiment of other students, Foecking said "Rendell was slick. [You could] tell he was a trained politician."Comments powered by Disqus
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