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For the First Time, a Woman Oversees Philadelphia's Spending

City Controller, Philadelphia

1811_Rebecca Rhynhart 11a
In 2017, Rebecca Rhynhart stunned the Philadelphia political establishment when she ousted a three-term incumbent to become the city’s first female controller. At 43, she was no stranger to city government -- she had previously served as Philadelphia’s budget director and chief administrative officer -- but her victory as a first-time candidate was remarkable nonetheless. Rhynhart defeated a veteran Democrat by 18 percentage points in the primary and went on to beat her Republican opponent by a whopping 66 points in the general election.

Now Rhynhart is challenging old politics, auditing public spending -- including in places she says “haven’t been audited for political reasons,” like the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Having worked on Wall Street earlier in her career, Rhynhart says her background prepared her to be a financial watchdog and steward of taxpayer dollars, and she’s proud to be a pioneering woman in government. “Politics has been occupied by white men for a very long time, and that needs to change. Change isn’t always comfortable, but we need to go for it.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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