Williams drops out of City Controller race, endorses Butkovitz

Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz speaks during a community meeting on AVI at New Temple Baptist Church in Phila. on March 20, 2013. ( ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer )

Michael Williams dropped his bid for the May 21 Democratic primary election for City Controller Wednesday -- the deadline to withdraw from the ballot -- and endorsed incumbent Alan Butkovitz's bid for a third four-year term.

Williams, in a news release, said he had a "frank and productive conversation" with Butkovitz about the Controller's Office.  Williams said Butkovitz shared his concerns about key issues facing the city, including the Actual Value Initiative to adjust property taxes, ongoing municipal labor negotiations and making government more efficient.

Williams left a job as an attorney in the City's Law Department in October and announced his bid for controller in December.  He has been working for the forensic auditing group at the law firm Picciotti & Schoenber since then.

That raised some eyebrows in political circles because one of the firm's leaders, Dean Picciotti, owns another company, Lexington Technologies Inc.  Butkovitz's office paid that company $60,000 to help on an audit of the Sheriff's Office. Butkovitz in 2011 opposed a $650,000 no-bid contract that the First Judicial District planned to give Lexington Technologies to work with the Sheriff's Office, saying it would be a conflict of interest.

Williams' withdrawal makes the primary essentially a rematch between Butkovitz and Brett Mandel, a former City Controller staffer under Jonathan Saidel who finished third in the Democratic primary in 2009.  Butkovitz and Mandel had led the field in fund-raising while Williams and Mark Zecca, another attorney who worked in the city's Law Department, have trailed well behind.