With the resignations of Councilors Domb, Green, Parker and Quiñones-Sánchez, City Hall will never be the same. There is some good in that, but their presence on the Council will also be missed.
I knew this day would come. I called him a few weeks ago.
The mass exodus of city councilors resigning ahead of Thursday’s return to session has been epic. So far, at-large councilors Allan Domb and Derek Green and ward councilors Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Cherelle Parker have all given up at least two terms at City Hall. And three of them – Green, Quiñones-Sánchez and Parker – have declared candidacies to run for mayor. (Domb, after his camp, is motionless exploration doing the same.)
At first glance, this is exciting news. I certainly can’t remember so many elected city officials resigning to run for mayor of Philly all at once. Resignations right before the resumption of the City Council also allow a quick special election (only called by Council President Darrell Clarke) to fill open district seats, ensuring two new faces in office before next year’s primary. The upcoming infusion of new councilors is sure to change the dynamic at City Hall.
It’s both promising and bittersweet. I was a big fan of some of those who resigned and didn’t tend to agree with others. But all had carved out specific niches in the city’s legislative body.
Take Maria Quiñones-Sánchez. For nearly four terms — all won without the support of the Democratic establishment — she proved that you can be elected without compromising your principles. (She opposed the soda tax, she was the only one in the City Hall who called on now-disgraced former City Councilman Bobby Henon to resign and supported the business tax cut.) With her gone, there are no Latinos on the City Council. For what it’s worth, this major gap should remind voters of the importance of electing another diverse, anti-establishment voice — one with a track record of success. Despite the fact that what is politically fashionable with her elected colleagues.
The departure of two-term council member Derek Green is another significant loss. Green was kind of the ideal choice overall: he avoided controversy and focused on doing shit. Over the years, his approaches to city-wide issues have been so business-savvy (such as supporting for a public bank and payroll tax cuts) and on the social justice side (proposing and passing an anti-discrimination bill that would impose tougher consequences on businesses that violate the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance). With so many polarizing figures on the City Council, we will miss how down-to-earth, laid-back and efficient “drama-free Derek” Green was. I hope the voters choose a similar person to replace him.
And although I am personally indifferent to the exits of Cherelle Parker and Allan Domb, I cannot deny their presence in City Hall. For nearly three terms, Parker was a political force for her northwest district. Following in the footsteps of former City Councilman (and bona fide filmmaker) Marian Tasco, Parker has embraced her position as a leading black woman in Philly politics. Her loyalty to the Democratic establishment (she rarely criticized Mayor Kenney and fueled the Northwest Coalition). progressive blocking) has ruffled feathers, representing a problematicthe old school political faction.
Domb’s tenure on the City Council was something of a social experiment: Could a wealthy businessman do the work on the Council, instead of simply funding others? To Domb’s credit, he was no slacker at work; ask anyone and they’ll tell you he is construction. In particular, he did not take a salary; took large positions (such as passing a payroll tax refund and calling for term limits) and didn’t bother calling out Mayor Kenney on his response to the city’s epidemic of gun violence. But he had a hard time convincing some of us that his other role as a developer wasn’t one conflict of interests.
Two new Council members will be elected in a special election and will essentially be a party election, so it’s unlikely we’ll see major changes right away. But when the primary rolls around in May, voters will have a say in how those Council seats should be filled.