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The Nation | ELECTION ROUNDUP

Philadelphia Mayor Rolls to Easy Victory

November 05, 2003|From Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor John Street easily won reelection against a familiar rival Tuesday after a racially charged campaign that was turned on its head when an FBI bug was discovered in the mayor's office.

The Democrat led Republican businessman Sam Katz, 58% to 42%, with 95% of precincts reporting. Minor violence and intimidation were reported at polling places around the city.

Street won his first term by narrowly defeating Katz in 1999. This year Katz had a slight lead in polls before Oct. 7, when police discovered the FBI recording device during what they described as a routine City Hall security sweep.

Street, 60, accused President Bush's Justice Department of launching the probe for political reasons. Black leaders suggested the FBI targeted the mayor because of his race. Street is black; Katz is white.

Authorities refused to say what they are investigating, but have subpoenaed records about a variety of work performed by a Street fund-raiser.

Katz, 53, campaigned against a City Hall culture he called corrupt and crippled by patronage, but struggled to win over minorities in a city nearly evenly divided between blacks and whites.

Street, addressing hundreds of ebullient supporters at a victory party, said he has "served this city with integrity, with intensity, with a full commitment to the people, and I have largely been trying to do the things that are in the best interests of the people in Philadelphia."

Katz called for "healing" after acknowledging defeat and said Street was a worthy opponent, but he continued to take aim at patronage practices.

"The political leaders of this city don't exist for their own purposes," Katz said. "They're not put in these offices in order to line the pockets of their friends. We don't put them in these offices in order to create grandeur for them."

In elections elsewhere:

Denver voters soundly rejected what might have been the nation's most-ridiculed ballot item: a measure that called on the city to reduce stress.

The proposal would have required the city to implement "scientifically proven" stress-reduction programs, such as playing calming music in public buildings and recruiting people to meditate.

Initiative author Jeff Peckman, a 49-year-old former meditation teacher, was disappointed. "My 15 minutes of fame may have just expired," he said.

Maine voters emphatically rejected big-time casino gambling, defeating a proposal by two Indian tribes to build a $650-million Las Vegas-style resort that critics said would have tarnished the state's image.

In New York City, voters defeated a proposal that would have eliminated party primaries and instituted nonpartisan elections for mayor and other city posts. Republican Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg spent $2 million of his own fortune backing the proposal, while Democratic leaders, whose party holds a 5-1 edge in registered voters, urged a no vote.

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