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Sy Synder's

Politician of the Year

The most powerful man in Harrisburg -- House Majority Leader John Perzel -- is this year's Politician of the Year. And for good reason. The Northeast Philly Republican has grow immensely in his job...from deal-cutter to a man who gets things done. When the education establishment in Philly threatened to close the public schools if it didn't receive more money, Perzel responded by passing legislation to allow the state to take over the school district. When Mayor John Street said the city could not afford to give the schools more money, Perzel took over the cash rich Philly parking authority (and its patronage jobs) and directed the money to the public schools. He has even squared off against the White House in a Congressional Redistricting showdown with Senate Republicans. Perzel has the respect and admiration of his entire caucus...including a dozen Democrats. When this politician walks into battle...he usually wins. Perzel's success has truly earned him the distinction as Politician of the Year.

Runners Up

First runner-up is Governor, Congressman, war hero, and American success story....Tom Ridge. The man who would be Vice President got drafted once again on September 20th when President Bush named him Director of Homeland Security.  Ridge became a key player in the year's biggest drama. In the final 15 months of a successful two terms as Governor, Thomas J. Ridge was riding out a wave of enormous popularity, defining his legacy and looking for the next one. For a blast from the past, read the August 27, 2001 AP story Strategist plots Ridge's future and his own
Philadelphia's 97th mayor makes our short list. In a state devoid of much political personality, John F. Street corners the market.  Two years ago, the Philadelphia Tribune named Street as the city's most influential African American.  They underestimated him. He is Pennsylvania's most influential African American. Thanks to Edison Schools and Governor Schweiker, Street has a bigger stage than ever.  And don't forget, President Bush singled out Street in a state of the union message earlier this year for his support of faith-based initiatives. In just his first term as mayor, Street will be a major player for some time.


Leading a clean sweep of GOP statewide judicial candidates, Judge Michael Eakin makes it to the final four as Politician of the Year. Eakin was the upset winner in this year's Supreme Court election and his victory gives Republicans control of the high Court. The rhyming Superior Court judge is now in a position to influence public policy from the bench for years to come.