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  • Writer's pictureJosie Hall

5 key takeaways on the upcoming elections from Larry Ceisler & Mustafa Rashed

Larry Ceisler, founder of Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy, and Mustafa Rashed, President & CEO of Bellevue Strategies, recently spoke at a Center City Business Association luncheon, where the two shared insights as respected political thought leaders on the changing political landscape of Philadelphia.

Here are five key takeaways from the discussion:

Public Safety is the name of the game

Larry Ceisler: As we stand now, public safety is the number 1,2,3,4 and 5 issue in this campaign. Nothing else matters unless we have a safe city. We can't do business unless we have a safe city, we can't do education unless we have a safe city. Unless people feel safe, nothing else is going to happen.

Mustafa Rashed: One of the paths to public safety is economic development. All those roads work together. We have to have a safe city so that we can have a prosperous city. Once the new mayor gets in the office, they’ve got to be able to do both. They’ve got to be able to focus on public safety and focus on economic development for small businesses and large businesses alike.

Engaging Philadelphians to vote is the challenge

LC: The vast majority of people in Philadelphia have no idea who these candidates are. Because, and this is my theory, for the last few years, they have just been checked out. In terms of what's happening in Philadelphia, they've been checked out because of COVID, and because they feel that they can't do anything, because of national events and what’s happened in the country in the past few years.

MR: It's not just that people are unaware of who these candidates are – I would tell you that 65% of the people in the city aren't even aware that there's an election.

In this election, the candidates are competing with people's time, with poverty, with people’s lives.For the average person, if they have to make a choice between going to go vote for in an election that they don’t think will help them, they will choose to go to work, to take their kids to school.

I would say 80% of the people in the city do not sit down in a room like this gathering and can't afford to pick their head up long enough to pay attention to a political process.

They have to worry about what's in front of them. It costs money to lift your head up and pay attention to something that's down the road. And most people in this city, in the poorest big city in America, don't have that privilege. That's what the candidates are really trying to combat — they’re competing for people's attention in a city that's historically poor.

We’re not just electing a mayor, we’re electing a team of leaders

LC: One of the things to consider in a mayor is what kind of people are they going to attract to work for them? In Harrisburg right now with Josh Shapiro, there are high-quality people going to work for him. There are a few people in this race who are going to have the ability to attract good people — candidates who can realize what they don’t know and find the people who do know.

We need a mayor who is growth minded

LC: You want to also find somebody who's a listener, a person who's going to go out and say ‘I don't have all the answers, will you? Will you help me?' I say to some of these candidates, ‘You'd have to broaden yourself because it's good for the city.’’

Our next mayor must have an appreciation and understanding of how businesses operate

LC: Most of these people on City Council or running for mayor have never worked in business; they've never run businesses. It's very frustrating whether you have a large business or a small business that you're not reached out to, that people don't want to know what you need.

MR: I always thought it was an unfair exercise, that you would ask someone to run a $6 billion-per-year enterprise and not ask their business acumen. What's the biggest budget you've ever overseen? How many people have you ever hired? What pensions and investments were you responsible for? These are questions we should be asking the candidates.


Josie Hall is a spring 2023 intern in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.


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