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Lynnfield High School '98 Lynnfield, Mass. Over the past several years, Philadelphia -- known as the City of Brotherly Love -- has experienced a remarkable economic and spiritual renaissance whose momentum is headed in a positive direction as the new millennium rapidly approaches. In the early 1990s, Philadelphia was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and faced annual deficits of well over $200 million, poor city services, a falling population and a bloated bureaucracy, among other foreboding issues. People everywhere had essentially given up on the city that saw the signing of the Declaration of Independence and gave the world Rocky Balboa. During his time in office, Rendell --Ewhose second and final term ends on December 31 -- has submitted six years of balanced budgets, seen the construction of a huge downtown convention center and growth in city-based jobs, helped transform the historic Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and in his crowning achievement, landed the 2000 Republican National Convention. But more than anything else, people in the city and around the country have regained faith in Philadelphia -- an accomplishment that holds a special place in Rendell's heart. "Changing the way other people think about us, that I think is something that I'm extremely proud of," Rendell said in April. "But I would say the thing that maybe I'm most proud of is that I changed our own people's view of the city, the business community, the people who live here.? People believe in Philadelphia again. People are proud." It comes as no surprise that Rendell's innovative tactics have garnered him national attention. While Vice President Al Gore has dubbed Rendell "America's Mayor," President Bill Clinton proclaimed "there's not a better mayor in America than Ed Rendell" during a recent visit to Philadelphia. Visitors to the downtown area of the city see very noticeable differences from just a few short years ago. The streets are cleaner, crime is down and major corporations are helping to revitalize the tourism industry. In the past year alone, construction on a new downtown indoor Disney theme park began and the state legislature approved funding for two new sports stadiums for the Phillies and Eagles. Construction is also underway on the massive $245 million Regional Performing Arts Center, designed to increase the amount of performing arts space in Philadelphia. Rendell has also overseen a drop in crime in the nation's fifth-largest city. Last year, he brought in former New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John Timoney to oversee Philadelphia's police department and he has proceeded to reform the city's troubled law enforcement agency. After he turns over the keys to City Hall, Rendell -- who will likely be a leading candidate for the Pennsylvania governorship in 2002 and has been rumored as a possible vice presidential candidate on Gore's ticket -- is planning to teach an Urban Studies class at Penn, where he can frequently be seen at the Palestra attending Penn men's basketball games.

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