Let’s end single-party rule in Philadelphia

Posted 8/31/23

Single-party rule, in my opinion, is not now, nor has it ever been a good idea.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Let’s end single-party rule in Philadelphia


I was born in Philadelphia in 1953 in Temple University Hospital, I grew up in the neighborhood of Lawndale. I attended Cardinal Dougherty High School and graduated from Temple University. I bought my first house in the Olney neighborhood.

In the early 1980s I moved to Rockledge in Montgomery County, barely one-quarter of a mile outside the city limits. I am a lifelong Democrat and I consider myself “A Philadelphian.”

I take pride in the fact that Philadelphia is the first and I believe only city in the United States to be recognized as a world heritage city. Philadelphia is the Nation's First World Heritage City. I take no pride in the fact that Philadelphia has the dubious honor of being the largest poor city in the United States.

It troubles me deeply to see the city that I love so much declining year after year. Sadly,  Philadelphia has become a place to be from, not a place to aspire to.

The disparity between the riches of our museums and cultural institutions, the excellence of our universities and medical schools, and even the successes of our sports teams, contrasted with the gun violence, abject poverty, poor schools and litter-covered streets tears at my heart.

What can we do to change this situation?

First, a bit of history.

In 1884 William B. Smith was elected Mayor of the City of Philadelphia. He was a member of the Republican party. Thus began a series of mayoral elections won by Republicans.

In 1941 Bernard Samuel, also a republican, was elected Mayor of Philadelphia. He served until 1952. That's a period of 68 years. Sixty-eight years of Republican party rule.

By all accounts in those 68 years, the city had become ripe with corruption. A new perspective was needed. A change had to be made.

In 1949  Joseph S. Clark, Jr., a Democrat, won election as city controller. In this capacity, he investigated and publicized scandals in the city government  He sought to break the power of the city's Republican political machine. In 1951, he ran for and was elected Mayor of Philadelphia, becoming the first Democrat to do so since 1884.

That ended the sixty-eight-year-long run of single-party rule. However, it began another run of single-party rule.

To this date, Bernard Samuel, who served until 1952, is the last Republican to ever be elected mayor of Philadelphia. That was 71 years ago. Seventy-one years of single-party rule.

Single-party rule, in my opinion, is not now, nor has it ever been a good idea. Not in the time of the Romans, in Hitler's Germany, in the USSR or in Communist China.

To this end, I must respectfully ask the citizens of Philadelphia to consider a change of party for the next mayoral election. You deserve a different perspective, even if only for four years.

Will a change of party in the mayor's office solve all of our problems? No. Will it bring about any immediate change? Probably not, but it’s a start. As to why we should risk a change in leadership, I leave you with this.

If the patient is ill, and Philadelphia is ill, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion.

James Paulus