He is challenging incumbent Alan Butkovitz in the May 21 primary for the role of the city’s top auditor.
Most recently, Mandel served as the executive director of the National Education Technology Funding Corporation and previously led Philadelphia Forward and sat on the Tax Reform Commission.
The Northeast Philadelphia native said he has worked for transparency in his campaign and, if elected, would post audits and city spending information on the controller website.
He would also be willing to post information on corporations’ nondiscrimination policies.
“My campaign is very much about transparency, so in addition to having the budget online, we can have all the corporations online that the city of Philadelphia contracts with and showcase some of the ones who have antidiscrimination policies and the ones who don’t,” he said.
Mandel said his outlook on the city’s financial situation is “grim.”
He noted city spending needs to be revamped to ensure taxpayers are getting what they deserve.
“We need to invest in so many other places. Our school district does not spend as much per child as other school districts do. We probably need to be investing another billion dollars per year just to give our children the education that is adequate, let alone something that is above and beyond. Are our streets clean enough? Are they safe enough? No. So when you look at what the city maybe could be spending or what it should be investing, we’re not investing enough.”
Mandel said he is a longtime LGBT supporter.
The best way to bring forth equality for all citizens, he said, is through educating the next generation.
“I’ve written, I’ve spoken, I’ve supported candidates financially, but the biggest thing I can do — the biggest thing anyone can do — is raise the next generation to understand that this is just who people are,” he said.
Mandel, who was endorsed by the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, has LGBT-identified staff in his campaign office and said he would work to promote the importance of diversity and nondiscrimination both in the controller’s office and throughout city contracts.
“Although it is not our job to change legislation, the City Controller can demand and ask of everybody who is contracted in the city, What are your antidiscrimination provisions?” he said. “Do you discriminate against certain groups, do you have policies where you won’t discriminate against groups and that is the kind of thing that you can make public?”
Mandel, who supports the statewide nondiscrimination bill and is also in favor of marriage equality, said such legislative efforts should continue to be pursued until they come to fruition because of the everyday reality that many LGBTs face.
“I think it is important to keep introducing and reintroducing that legislation, if for nothing else but to remind people that in this state, it is legal for someone to say, ‘You’re gay, get out of my hotel’ where if they said, ‘You’re Jewish, get out of my establishment.’ we would say that is horrifying,” Mandel said. “Every day it should be on the front cover, reminding us of the shame. It is sad that it is 2013 and we’re OK with it being legal to discriminate this way.”
Mandel said the city’s residents at large deserve a government that is financially stable and efficient.
“Our taxes are going up, our services have been cut back, we’re closing schools; all at the same time, jobs are down in Philadelphia and poverty is up. The controller is the person in government who is supposed to make sure we are more efficient, more effective. Unless we can show that we in the government are being efficient, unless we can prove what we are doing, we are going to keep sliding down the wrong path and continue to increase the cost of living and doing business, while decreasing the quality of life and the marketplace. We have to reverse that.”
For more information on Mandel, visit www.brettmandel.com.