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personnel costs, nonperformance of the PPD’s primary crime-fighting strategy, lack of community involvement, outdated administrative practices, and intractable systems.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
Under Rhynhart’s direction, the Controller’s office has researched and reported on:
- PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT’S BUDGET and operations, detailing the PPD’s outdated practices, ineffective programs and policies, and misuse of funds.
- THE CITY’S BOTCHED RESPONSE TO BLM PROTESTS in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020
- THE VACCINATION ROLLOUT DISASTER that was Philly Fighting Covid
- ABYSMAL TRASH COLLECTION during the pandemic, especially in communities of color
- A PLAN TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE, in partnership with Jamie Gauthier
- A COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING PLAN for Philly’s $1.4 billion slice of the American Rescue Fund
- CITY HALL’S BUDGET-BUSTING MANAGERIAL INCOMPETENCE under Mayor Kenney
- HOW TO ESTABLISH FISCAL TRANSPARENCY within City operations
- THE CASE OF THE MISSING $33 MILLION from City bank accounts
What else we know about Rebecca Rhynhart
- SHE’S FROM ABINGTON, MONTGOMERY COUNTY and attended public school — Abington High School — there.
- SHE GRADUATED WITH A B.A. FROM MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE in Vermont.
- SHE HAS HER MASTER’S IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION FROM COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.
- 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.”
- 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 Nutter. Nutter 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.”
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.”
Citizen coverage on Rebecca Rhynhart
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MORE MAYORAL RACE COVERAGE FROM THE CITIZENHeader photo by Jared Piper