Who Is Rebecca Rhynhart?

The transparency-focused former City Controller worked for mayors Jim Kenney and Michael Nutter and ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for mayor in 2023

Who Is Rebecca Rhynhart?

The transparency-focused former City Controller worked for mayors Jim Kenney and Michael Nutter and ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for mayor in 2023

When City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart declared her bid for mayor in late October 2022, she did so with statistical knowledge of Philadelphia’s greatest problems — and a long list of ways to fix them. A controller’s job is to perform financial audits of the Mayor and City Council and to investigate important ways members of city government are — and are not — following rules, laws, and best practices. Rhynhart, however, went further.

Rhynhart became the first woman to win the City Controller job in 2017 upon defeating incumbent Alan Butkovitz. Before that, the Abington native was Mayor Jim Kenney’s chief administrative officer, Mayor Michael Nutter’s city treasurer and then budget director, and, before all that, a managing director at Bear Stearns in New York.

When Rhynhart took her most recent job, she said her role was figuring out how to save Philadelphians money. She tried to do this by, among other ways, creating an up-to-date, interactive map of gun violence in Philly.

One week before she announced her bid for mayor, Rhynhart’s office released a City Council-requested audit of the Philadelphia Police Department’s budget. The report detailed highest-in-the-nation personnel costs, nonperformance of the PPD’s primary crime-fighting strategy, lack of community involvement, outdated administrative practices, and intractable systems. It also provided recommendations to overhaul the department’s programs and operations.

The one big thing Rhynhart could not do as City Controller: Implement the solutions that her department came up with. (Not her fault: Her role was to report, not enact.) She has also never been a legislator, so has no experience working with colleagues or political opponents to pass laws or implement policy. Should she become mayor, she says fighting gun violence and litter will be her top priorities.

What Rebecca Rhynhart did as Controller

City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart at budget meeting
Photo courtesy Jared Piper / Philadelphia City Council

Under Rhynhart’s direction, the Controller’s office has researched and reported on:

  1. PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT’S BUDGET and operations, detailing the PPD’s outdated practices, ineffective programs and policies, and misuse of funds.
  2. THE CITY’S BOTCHED RESPONSE TO BLM PROTESTS in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020
  3. THE VACCINATION ROLLOUT DISASTER that was Philly Fighting Covid
  4. ABYSMAL TRASH COLLECTION during the pandemic, especially in communities of color
  5. A PLAN TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE, in partnership with Jamie Gauthier
  6. A COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING PLAN for Philly’s $1.4 billion slice of the American Rescue Fund
  9. THE CASE OF THE MISSING $33 MILLION from City bank accounts

What else we know about Rebecca Rhynhart

  1. SHE’S FROM ABINGTON, MONTGOMERY COUNTY and attended public school — Abington High School — there.
  4. PRIOR TO JOINING CITY GOVERNMENT, SHE WORKED ON WALL STREET as a managing director at Bear Stearns (she left one month before the investment bank, securities trading, and brokerage firm collapsed in the global financial crisis) and as a director at the credit rating agency Fitch Ratings — one of the “Big Three.”
  5. SHE, HER HUSBAND AND THEIR TEENAGE DAUGHTER LIVE IN CENTER CITY. Rhynhart has said her daughter attends public school.

Endorsements for Rebecca Rhynhart

Former Mayor Michael NutterNutter hired Rhynhart to be the City’s treasurer in 2008 and then appointed her as budget director. He told WHYY, “She has the ability to talk to a wide variety of people who may have different opinions about any number of things.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board.

Former Mayor Ed Rendell. Rendell wrote in The Citizen, “She is willing to take political risks for the public good … I believe she is a proven leader. Her experience as City Treasurer, Budget Director, and Chief Administrative Officer, combined with her excellent record as Controller, makes her the clear choice in a very strong field. Rebecca has the greatest depth and broadest experience in the government’s executive branch.”

Former Mayor John Street. In January, Street described Rhynhart to The Inquirer as, “This is a person who can basically hit the ground running.”

Citizen coverage on Rebecca Rhynhart

2022: Rebecca Rhynhart Shares Her Stance On Smarter Policing in Philly 

2021: Rhynhart Report Makes It Official — Trash Pickup Is Terrible in Philly

2021: Rebecca Rhynhart’s Plan For Spending Our $1.4 Billion Recovery Funds

2021: How Rebecca Rhynhart Plans to Fight Gun Violence 

2021: Rhynhart Releases Reports on Philly Fighting Covid and George Floyd Protests 

2020: Rebecca Rhynhart Speaks Out on Kenney’s Historic Spending Spree

2020: Rhynhart Calls For More Transparency in Government Spending 

2018: Rebecca Rhynhart on the City’s Missing Millions 

2017: Rebecca Rhynhart Hopes Reform Is Part of City Controller Election

Videos featuring Rebecca Rhynhart

More ways to learn about Rebecca Rhynhart

Former Philadelphia city controller and 2023 mayoral candidate Rebecca Rhynhart
Photo courtesy Rebecca Rhynhart Campaign

Visit Rebecca Rhynhart’s campaign website.

Follow Rhynhart on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

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The Philadelphia Citizen updates this profile and all our Philadelphia mayoral candidate profiles on a regular basis.

Every Voice, Every Vote is a collaborative project managed by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Lead support is provided by the William Penn Foundation with additional funding from The Lenfest Institute, the Wyncote Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, among others. To learn more about the project and view a full list of supporters, visit Editorial content is created independently of the project’s donors.


Header photo by Jared Piper

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