Monday, February 19, 2007

Making a difference without fanfare

Untermeyer speaking at TempleI'd like to bring to your attention a small citywide race featuring somebody who just wants to make the government work better -- a race where some publicity and some volunteer time could really pay off -- Mike Untermeyer's race for Philadelphia Sheriff (website here). I knew little about the office or this candidate until he came to talk to a neighborhood meeting, and yet I think he generated more excitement than even the Council and other candidates that stopped by.

Why you should support him:
  1. He's incredibly qualified for the job, having worked as a District Attorney, helped fight money laundering, and even has some real estate experience. (A lot of the Sheriff's Office work involves sales of properties that are seized for tax delinquency.) In fact, he's probably overqualified -- see the whole run-down here.

  2. His motivation really seems to be just making one chunk of city government function more effectively.

    • He talked about the frustrations of watching criminal cases get thrown out because the sheriff's staff would fail to have the defendant in court for their trial (over and over).
    • He described the waste in the lackadaisical way that the office is run -- it seems to be the backwater endpoint for all kinds of political favors, and the Sheriff hasn't had a challenger in more than a decade -- and the unacceptable (really shocking) handling of funds found by the comptroller (see two reports linked from the campaign site).
    • He seemed to have numerous ideas for helping some people hang onto their homes (e.g., making older residents aware of reverse mortgages that can help them cope with rising taxes), as well as for making sheriff officers a better-trained reserve to help the overtaxed city police at times of particular need.

  3. Almost all the press that I could track down on Sheriff Green was negative, including unfair fees on destitute homeowners, and questions of conflicts of interest over real estate dealings. (Even more grim history here.)

  4. You can see the more detailed list of reasons that Untermeyer's campaign gives for why it is important to you that the Sheriff's office do its job better. This is a narrow niche in which very concrete improvement could clearly be made, and Mike seems serious about making a difference.
This race is far enough down the (already crowded) ballot that many Philadelphians won't even vote it in the primary. So it's a race that could be won by only a handful of votes -- help spread the word and put a dedicated civil servant into office.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post; these offices are important and don't get enough attention.

10:29 PM  

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