POLL: PHILADELPHIANS’ PRIORITIES NOT ADDRESSED BY CITY PERFORMANCE
March 5, 2007
Shannon Grant, Braithwaite Communications
Allison Kelsey, Economy League
Economy League Poll Shows Citizens Unhappy with Services, Distrusting of City Government
March 5, 2007 – Philadelphia, PA – A poll from the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia shows that Philadelphians lack faith in city government. The Priorities and Performance: Philadelphian’s Opinions About Philadelphia Poll reveals the issues on the minds of Phila-delphians as they approach the task of choosing a new mayor and describes how residents assess the city’s quality of life and the quality of the public services available.
The poll was conducted by Temple University’s Institute for Public Affairs. Contacted by telephone in February, 802 respondents were asked for their views on crime and safety, taxes and spending, education, and governance. The responses were weighted to match the adult population of Philadelphia in terms of age, race, education, income, and sex.
There was broad agreement on priorities: personal safety and safe neighborhoods, good access to medical care, affordable cultural and recreational opportunities, clean environment, and good schools. However, the majority were skeptical of the City’s competency in addressing these priorities:
73 percent of respondents said that city government does “only fair” or “poor” job.
76 percent of respondents indicated that they don’t have much faith in government to do what is right. Of that, 21 percent of the total said that they “almost never” trust city government to do what is right.
At 42 percent, those who thought “quite a few people [in city government] are corrupt” was even with those who said that “not very many are.”
“This poll shows a general unease among Philadelphians,” said Steven T. Wray, Executive Director of Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. “The City is facing some tough choices – not only in this election for Mayor but in the 2007 budget debates. Understanding how city residents view the performance of city government and their priorities for the future is crucial to making good decisions. Rebuilding faith in government is one of the most important jobs of the next mayor.”
“One of the biggest challenges for both current and future city leaders is gaining the trust of city residents,” said Michael G. Hagen, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University. “Many don’t trust their government, and public officials will need citizens’ trust in order to tackle the city’s problems.”
While the Economy League Priorities Poll did not ask which of the mayoral candidates respondents would support, they were asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion about the candidates, Mayor Street, and Philadelphia City Council. Approximately one-third answered that they had no opinion on the mayoral hopefuls. Opinions of Mayor Street were more negative than those of City Council.
The Poll revealed some positive opinions about the city. Fifty-six percent said they would continue to live in Philadelphia even with the opportunity to move away. Sixty percent said that their neighborhood is an “excellent” or “good place to live.” Parks and recreation are good to excellent (55%) and so is the library system (72%). Eighty percent said they feel “completely safe” or “pretty safe” in their homes at night.
The Priorities and Performance: Philadelphian’s Opinions About Philadelphia Poll is a project of the Economy League’s IssuesPhiladelphia initiative. Issues Philadelphia seeks to focus government on efficiently and effectively providing the results that matter to city residents and help investors in the corporation that is Philadelphia (also known as Philadelphians) to understand how decisions are made and how individuals' voices can be heard. The IssuesPhiladelphia.org website features the poll’s full results (including the data set and questionnaire), research on governance best practices, facts and analysis of the Philadelphia city budget, and links to important resources.
About the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia
The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to research and analysis of the region’s resources and challenges with the goal of promoting sound public policy and increasing the region’s prosperity. ELGP is an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Economy League, Inc., with offices in Harrisburg, Wilkes Barre, and Pittsburgh.
About the Temple University Institute for Public Affairs
The Institute for Public Affairs is devoted to the interdisciplinary study of important social, economic and political issues, especially those most affecting the lives of people in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. IPA brings together scholars and students from across Temple’s departments, schools, and colleges to work on policy aspects of their individual disciplines, and to forge connections with policy-makers and citizens in the community. IPA supports research, organizes seminar series, sponsors appearances by policy-makers, publishes important research findings, and produces the Temple/Inquirer Poll.
About the William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that foster rich cultural expression, strengthen children’s futures, and deepen connections to nature and community. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance a vital, just, and caring community. Learn more about the Foundation online at www.williampennfoundation.org.