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Tom Hutt, a staff member at the Medical School, is the Green Party candidate for the City Council's Eighth District seat. [Rachel Meyer/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

If Tom Hutt gets his way on Nov. 4, Philadelphia will be the largest U.S. city with a Green Party city councilman.

A two-term incumbent contender and a district in need of mobilization are his obstacles -- but not insurmountable ones, according to Hutt, an employee in the Space Planning and Operations Department at Penn's School of Medicine and a candidate for the Eighth District Council -- an area which includes neighborhoods from Mount Airy to Chestnut Hill.

"We are running a lot of candidates this year," Hutt said of the national Green Party efforts. "That's an important thing to mention so that people know we actually do win."

With his campaign contributions already topping $8,000, Hutt -- armed with campaign literature and improvement plans for the city -- does intend to win.

Yet, good intentions may not pave the way to Election Day success.

"The chances of a third party candidate [winning]... are pretty doubtful" in Philadelphia, according to Political Science Professor Jack Nagel.

The other Green Party candidate in the City Council race -- John Hogan, a specialist in Penn's Biddle Law Library, who had planned on running for an at-large seat last spring -- dropped out this summer, citing personal reasons.

But while Green Party support may be hard to come by, Hutt's liberal home base in Mt. Airy may work to his advantage.

"I can imagine a decent Green vote coming out of Mt. Airy," Nagel said. "There's probably more chance there than other parts of the city."

Connecting to this constituency is what mobilizes Hutt.

"It's a real bread-and-butter kind of issue -- just being accessible and courteous," he said.

"When I talk about the things I think are important, it turns out... people respond to that," he said, emphasizing his efforts to canvas neighborhoods and speak to voters.

Key issues for Hutt range from the immediate -- ousting incumbent Democrat Donna Reed Miller -- to more long-term goals, including environmental protection and education and financial reform.

"Donna Reed Miller sits on the Education Committee and that's about all she does," Hutt said, adding that voters want "someone in there who really views the post as a leadership position."

Hoping to prove he can meet this challenge, Hutt points to his role last spring in combating SEPTA announcements that it would close rail lines in the Eighth District.

SEPTA backed down when Hutt and other community advocates organized 7,000 petition signatures in opposition of the measure.

Regardless of the election outcome, Hutt has impressed others with his campaign.

"I admire his efforts greatly to run like that as a third party," said Peter Zutter, Hutt's colleague in the Space Planning and Operations Department. "It takes a lot of guts to really put yourself out there."

Stressing the hardships of campaigning in the midst of maintaining a full-time job and family, Zutter added, "It has taken a lot of time and a tremendous effort."

According to Hutt, both time and effort will be most critical in the next two weeks.

"We're concentrating on getting ready for Election Day itself," he said. "Your operation on the street on Election Day is the single most important thing."

With around 50 volunteers already lined up, Hutt plans to have 200 in play on Election Day to promote his candidacy.

These efforts, according to Nagel, are what just might make the difference.

"You at least have some hope if you're energetic and have some shoe leather."

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