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Why entrepreneur Dana Spain decided not to run for Philadelphia mayor

Spain was considering a bid on the GOP ticket, positioning herself as a business-friendly alternative to a pack of city bureaucrats. Here's why she decided against it.

Dana Spain. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Style)

If you wanted a young, entrepreneurial woman to be the next Philadelphia mayor, there was hope that the Republication candidate was going to be one. But even though Dana Spain, a marketer who sold Philadelphia Style magazine in 2008, ultimately decided to sit this one out, it’s worth knowing why.

It seems it comes down to timing, both for her and for the city.

Spain now runs DLG Communications and McSpain Properties, and remains on the board of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, which she founded. Spain says there’s more she wants to do in the private sector — a view she wishes other city politicians shared.

“If you look at the other people in elected office, no one’s had a job outside of being an elected official or if they did, they worked for someone else,” said Spain, who is in her mid-40s. “They have no concept other than to come to work, do their job and go home. When you’re a business owner, you have a totally different perspective of what’s so very wrong with the city.”

“Dana cares about the city. She was born and raised here. Her family’s business is here,” said Steve Rockman, a digital strategist who served on Spain’s mayoral exploratory committee. “She has the potential to affect change,” he added.

Benjamin Haney, a real estate developer, met Spain through the tony Union League, where both are members. As her advisor in the exploratory campaign, Haney felt Spain’s leadership expertise and experience outside of politics would be beneficial to city bureaucracy. He also thought Spain running on the Republican ticket — she had been registered as a Democrat — was crafty strategy.

“There’s a stereotype of Republicans,” Haney said. “Dana’s decision to run on a Republican platform is similar to how Mayor Nutter ran. The Democratic machine is set up as a line and Dana knew her business side fits the Republican views.”

The fledgling city GOP has been shaken up in recent years and has tried to distance itself from more socially conservative national Republican trends. To do so, the local party has courted a wide array of more fiscally conservative business types that might challenge the city’s heavily Democratic voter registration rolls. Spain, for example, is a wealthy entrepreneur (she has tried to sell her 10,000-square-foot Bella Vista home for as much as $4.25 million.)

Spain’s campaign group was a diverse bunch, however. Haney believed the group to be more representative of the city than the people currently elected to run it. Spain’s decision not to run for mayor in the 2015 election, Haney believes, will not stop her ideas for helping the city of Philadelphia.

“Even though the timing wasn’t perfect for her right now, because Dana is so business-savvy, any executive role in city government would suit her great vision for the city,” Haney said.

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