The Boy Who Would Be Mayor

Since sixth grade, Andrew Hohns has had only one goal: to govern the city he calls home.

By Liz Spikol
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 28, 2001

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They have specific plans for SEPTA: increasing ridership, improving service, lowering fares. By the end of the evening, two of them will leave with marching orders to get information they don't already have about public transportation. They'll need all the ammunition they can get when they meet with the big mahoffs next week at the Avenue of the Arts.

And that's where the name comes in: the YIPs. That's the name they've given themselves because they only recently found the need for one. They wanted to set up meetings with different city organizations, but didn't have a profile.

No one's given the ball to Andrew alone--after all, he can't run until he's 25. So for now, the group is beginning to take formal shape, and YIP seemed like the best idea.

Late one night, after all the pizza is gone and assignments have been handed out, Troy drives Job home. He sits in the back seat because the front passenger-side door doesn't open. There are jokes about Troy as an immigrant cab driver.

Job says, "How much do I owe you?" when he gets out of the car. Troy bangs the digital clock as if it's a meter, saying, "I don't know what's wrong with this thing!"

Ask them now, when they're tired and slightly giddy, what YIP stands for and you'll get the answer you've been looking for all night: The "Y" is "Young." The "P" is "Philadelphian." The "I" is ... anything you want it to be. "Interested." "Intelligent." "Insouciant." "Intellectual." "Ignorant." "Idiotic."

Whatever they may be--and wherever they may go--they are, if nothing else, "Inspired," full of "youthful enthusiasm and optimism," their mantra. Andrew has convinced them that Philadelphia is worthy of their Sunday evenings at least, if not their complete devotion. Now they're putting their plans into action.

Some of these plans will be realized; some won't. They may get press or they may be ignored.

Job might run for office one day; Troy may leave in search of bigger battles; Eva may finish her writing and decide to move on. John, just graduating high school, can't yet know what his future will bring, and Miller, applying to law school, can't say for sure where he'll be living next year. Dave will be around, but maybe business will take him away from the weekly meetings and activism.

The one sure thing is Andrew, who will live in Philadelphia and do anything and everything he can to save the city, "to restore to it the beauty and grandeur that once attended it." It will be Andrew--at the coffee shop, at Dirty Frank's, on the 21 bus--trudging across the city in search of new neighborhoods, new treasures he's sure the city has in store that he's yet to find. And there'll be Andrew, calling you up, wondering about the new softball season and ... well, have you seen SEPTA's Fiscal Year Outlays for 2001-2004? It's astonishing where they're putting their dollars, simply astonishing. There must be a better way to do this ...

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