Philadelphia Tribune: Kenney Chooses ‘Change Agent’ for New City Solicitor
December 14, 2015
Larry Miller, Philadelphia Tribune
Mayor-elect Jim Kenney announced Monday that Sozi Pedro Tulante is his choice to become Philadelphia’s next city solicitor.
“When I first met him, I knew this was the guy,” Kenney said during a news conference at City Hall. “He’s going to be a change agent and help move our city forward. Most people see the city solicitor’s office as a department that always says no. We want it to be an office of possibilities.”
Tulante comes into the city solicitor’s job after serving as assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia’s U.S. Attorney’s Office since 2010. As a federal prosecutor, he has handled a wide range of criminal investigations and prosecutions, including narcotics and white-collar offenses. Tulante’s appointment must be approved by City Council. Kenney is still looking to fill positions for the next fire and prison commissioners.
“After 15 years of public service, this is the opportunity of my life,” Sozi said. “I met with 15 members of City Council before the actual appointment. No one ever did that before. I wanted to meet with them because, essentially, they’re going to be my clients. The city’s law department has to become a change agent. We’re going to bring in fresh ideas and fresh faces to make the law department into an office of possibilities. This is the time for change.”
Before joining the government, Tulante was a shareholder at Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller and concentrated his practice on general commercial litigation and on high-profile pro bono matters, including representing a detainee in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also served as a member of Mayor Nutter’s Transition Committee for the Philadelphia Law Department in 2007.
“I was impressed with his story and his record of public service,” Kenney said. “I met with members of City Council and everyone I spoke with had overwhelming support for Sozi.”
Tulante was born and spent most of his childhood in Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. He and his family immigrated to the United States as political refugees in 1983. He grew up in North Philadelphia and is a graduate of Northeast High School, Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Tulante was named as one of Pennsylvania’s Diversity Attorneys of the Year by The Legal Intelligencer in 2009, and a 40 Under 40 recipient by the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2010.
“My family came to this nation 32 years ago this week,” Tulante said. “We came because my family believed in the possibility of America. We’re here because of opportunities like this; that my mother could be sitting here and see her son nominated as city solicitor. There’s a lot of discussion in the news right now about refugees but I can personally say that refugees love this country. They know this is a country of possibilities.”
Kenney said one of the aspects of change that he wants to see instituted is more minority participation in management positions of city government departments.
“We want to have more minority participation and getting people to rise in the ranks of management,” Kenney said. “Right now management is mostly white males and we want to change that. The city solicitor’s office has been a department where the answer was usually no. We want to change that to one where the question is how can we get around some things and make the city better.”
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