How does Joe Zazyczny
view the role of legislators?Zazyczny
should know, since he
used to be one.The former city councilman prided himself on being a full-time legislator, noting that some of his
colleagues had lucrative side jobs.Zazyczny
voted the way the folks in the Sixth Councilmanic District wanted him to, not the way the party bosses did.Constituents had easy access to the councilman, as his
home phone number was always in the White Pages.So, the way Zazyczny sees it, legislators should feel fortunate that their neighbors have put them in office to serve the community."God does not anoint them.People elect them," he
said.As a young man, Zazyczny was active in Polish-American causes and founded the Richmond Committee for Community Improvement.
By 1967, the 6th district Council seat was up for grabs following the retirement of a Republican incumbent.Then-Mayor James Tate and state Sen.Joe Scanlon tapped the 32-year-old Zazyczny
to be their candidate in the Democratic primary against an opponent backed by party boss Frank Smith.
After voters learned how to pronounce Zazyczny
(it's Zah-zitch-nee), they elected him in '67 and re-elected him in 1971 and 1975.By 1978, he
wife Marti had six kids.Council pay back then was $18,000 a year.Someday, the councilman knew, he'd have to pay college tuition."I couldn't raise six children on a City Council salary," Zazyczny
was born a little too early.If he were serving on Council today, he'd be earning $80,000.
Council is also talking about hiking the salary to $100,000, which would be an incredible increase of 150 percent since 1991, when the pay was $40,000.After leaving office a year before the end of his third term, Zazyczny went to work as executive secretary of the Philadelphia Port Corp.He
stayed until 1987, when he
joined the administration of new Gov.
...When Casey left office at the beginning of 1995, Zazyczny became vice president for government marketing at East Hanover, N.J.-based National Prescription Administrators (NPA), Inc.
A community activist, councilman, state cabinet member, executive in the private sector.Northeast Catholic High School
recognized Zazyczny's achievements and last week inducted the 1953 graduate into its Hall of Fame.The March 12 ceremony took place in the school auditorium.
"It was nice to be back to North Catholic," Zazyczny
said last week in an interview at NPA's
field office on the 400 block of Market St.Zazyczny was joined by a couple of old pals, lawyer Joe McDevitt and former state Rep.
...Zazyczny urged the honor students to work hard, study and be leaders in a post-Sept. 11 America.
"In this country, doors are open for you.There's no limit to what you can accomplish," he
told the students.Zazyczny
, a youthful-looking 67, splits his
time working in NPA's East Hanover and Philadelphia offices.He
also travels.Two days after the induction ceremony, he
was on a plane to Oklahoma.His
six kids have grown.They range in age from 36 to twin 30-year-old sons.He
has nine grandchildren, with two on the way.In Council, Zazyczny
represented the neighborhoods of Frankford, Oxford Circle, Tacony, Wissinoming, Mayfair, Holmesburg, Torresdale, Juniata Park, Port Richmond and Kensington.In office, Zazyczny
had the chance to dine with Queen Elizabeth during a Bicentennial celebration at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
, but he
was more comfortable attending banquets for Vogt, Mayfair A.C. and the 16 other youth athletic clubs in his
district.The seat was vacant during 1979, and Zazyczny
did not endorse anyone in the crowded Democratic primary.
...In Council, Zazyczny was chairman of the Committee on Public Property and an ally of Rizzo.
"I don't think he
got credit for a lot of things he
said of Rizzo
, noting that the late mayor was fair to all neighborhoods in his
never served with Mayor John Street, who was elected to Council in 1979, but he
recalls Street being part of a group of rabble-rousers that disrupted Council sessions and threw objects at members.
and D'Ortona clashed often.
described himself as a conservative Democrat, particularly on fiscal matters."When it came to taxes, you really had to prove to me that it was worth raising taxes or I wouldn't go for it," he
opposed budget-busting plans to build new public schools and spoke against education dollars that went to administrators rather than the classroom."Things haven't changed in thirty years," he
pushed an air pollution bill that cleaned up the industries along Delaware Avenue while protecting jobs.He
also worked to keep adult-entertainment shops away from churches, schools and residences.In terms of constituent service, Zazyczny
liked helping anyone, whether they lived in his
district or not.The councilman and his
office worked to trim and plant trees, clean the city streets, and build swimming pools, playgrounds and senior citizen centers.One of his
proudest achievements is funding the indoor swimming pool at Abraham Lincoln High School
.The pool is available for use by the school and the community.Zazyczny
also was successful in bringing four-way stop signs to the streets in his
district."I had a battle with the streets department to put them in.The engineers said they would never (work)," he
recalled.Zazyczny credits city leaders with building Center City, but he
thinks it's time to focus on neighborhoods.In his
days in office, people proudly said they were from Tacony or Torresdale or identified themselves as being from Mater Dolorosa, St. Katherine of Siena or other Catholic parishes.Zazyczny
doesn't see neighborhood pride being as strong as it once was."I think that's why we're losing a lot of people in the city of Philadelphia," he
stays active in Polish-American activities.He's
not totally out of the political game, as he's
supporting Bob Casey Jr. for governor.But Zazyczny's life revolves around work and family.He
works and travels so much during the week that he
treasures weekends, when he
can spend time with his
wife, children and grandkids.