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Voting, the next mayor and Hillary Clinton: What we learned when Mayor Nutter talked to the Young Professionals Network

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter spoke with members of the Philadelphia Young Professionals Network Tuesday evening during an “Unplugged” event billed as a candid conversation with about 150 young people.

The event, held at Pipeline Philly coworking space in Center City (full disclosure: Billy Penn‘s office is here), allowed for several questions from audience members regarding voting, the next mayor and what Nutter’s plans are for after he leaves City Hall.

Here are six highlights:

1. Plans for after office?

Mayor Nutter insists that he’s keeping his options open for when he leaves City Hall in January 2016, but he did give a glimpse into what he’ll be working on. For one, he said that he’ll become an official co-chair of the committee that’s organizing the Democratic National Convention that’s taking place in Philly in July 2016. In that capacity, he’ll continue organizing the convention that he helped bring to the city.

He also said he’s “very hopeful a certain person decides to announce her candidacy for president of the United States,” and should that happen, he will be “aggressively” involved in those campaigning efforts. Good try, Nutter. We know who you’re talking about.

2. Endorsing a mayoral candidate?

Nutter was asked by a member of the audience if he plans to endorse one of the six Democratic mayoral candidates prior to the primary. He said he hopes to announce his support for someone, but wouldn’t put a timetable on when that endorsement will be made public.

“I was hoping for a much more spirited election this season,” Nutter said. “I really want the candidates to have more of an opportunity to really get out there and tell their story and explain why they really want to be mayor other than just wanting to be the mayor.”

3. Nutter is worried young people aren’t involved enough

After briefly discussing the power that young people wield in Philadelphia and the effect they could have on the upcoming election, Nutter asked the crowd a question: Could you raise your hand if you’re currently involved in a mayoral campaign? Only a few hands went up in the room of about 150.

“That is sad,” he responded, going on to tell the room that eight years ago, the number of young people working on mayoral campaigns would have likely been much higher. And while voting is part of the equation, he said, being politically-involved should extend beyond the voting booth.

4. He has five things he wants the next mayor to focus on

And they’re broad. Nutter said he hopes the next mayor of Philadelphia keeps a keen attention on public safety, education, jobs and economic development, ethics and integrity and quality of life issues. And working better with Harrisburg and Washington. So basically… all of the things.

He also doesn’t seem all that excited about the current mayoral race.

“To be honest,” he said, “this one seems a little cool at the moment. The air war will start soon, but it’s pretty late in the process for this kind of race.”

5. He has ideas for what Philly should look like in the future

Better education. When a member of the audience asked Nutter what his vision for Philly is, he said it’s all rooted in education. If Harrisburg and Philadelphia can work to establish a fair funding formula for the state to send more money to the ailing schools, he said his hopes are that Philly schools can bring the graduation rate to 80 percent.

“I can assure you, crime will continue to go down, there will be more jobs, you will lift thousands of children and their parents out of poverty, and we will be what we should be,” he said. “If we do that, there are no limits to what Philadelphia can be.”

6. The mayor wants you to read The Art of War

When asked what book he recommended to the group, Nutter said he believes anyone who is in politics or wants to better understand it should read the ancient Chinese military treatise The Art of War by Sun Tzu. While the book was originally meant to discuss military strategy, its teachings have been applied to everything from business to law to politics.

“It’s as relevant today,” he said, “as it was thousands of years ago.”

Photo: @215Tayyib on Instagram

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