Philadelphia City Councilmember Bobby Henon resigns, two months after bribery conviction

A jury found that Henon used his seat on City Council to do the bidding of powerful labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty.

A closeup of Bobby Henon

Philadelphia City Councilmember Bobby Henon walks to the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia City Councilmember Bobby Henon has resigned effective immediately.

The announcement from Henon’s office comes two months after Henon was convicted of bribery and conspiracy.

A jury found that Henon used his seat on City Council to do the bidding of powerful labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. This in exchange for a $70,000 salary from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the city’s most politically powerful union.

Henon had previously stepped down from his committee chair roles. He led the Committee on Public Property and Public Works and Committee on Licenses and Inspections and was vice-chair of the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Public Health and Human Services.

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Dougherty, who has vowed to appeal, similarly stepped down as business manager of Local 98, a post he held for three decades.

Henon, who has served on City Council since 2011, was not legally required to resign from his 6th District seat until sentencing in February.

Both men face up to 20 years in prison for the most serious charges.

Henon in a statement said he was “grateful to the residents of the 6th District for allowing me to serve as Councilman for the past 10 years,” adding that he “worked hard each and every day to be an outspoken and bold advocate for the hardworking people of the 6th district.”

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Henon in a statement declined requests for further comment or interviews.

Mayor Jim Kenney weighed in Thursday with a statement in support of Henon’s resignation, calling it the “right decision.”

“With so many pressing challenges facing Philadelphia, it is critical that City leaders—including our partners in City Council—remain focused squarely on the needs and priorities of our residents,” Kenney said.

A longtime Henon ally, the mayor also signaled his respect for the former council member.

“As I’ve said before, I’ve always believed that Councilmember Henon would do what he feels is right for his constituents, for the people of Philadelphia, and for the entire city, Kenney said in the statement. “While he must now face the consequences of his past decisions, it is important to evaluate the entirety of a person’s contributions to public service throughout their whole career.”

Kenney went on to say that the decision of when to hold a special election for the 6th Council District will be made by City Council President Darrell Clarke.

The election can be held separately or during the next regularly scheduled primary or general election.

In the meantime, Clarke said in an interview Thursday on WURD Radio that his office will supervise Henon’s staff while they work out of a district office in Northeast Philly. More than 160,000 people live in the district, according to the council leader.

“They must continue to have constituent services and some level of representation as it relates to being able to have a place to go to provide those types of services,” he said.

The ward leaders of the Republican and Democrat parties will each select a candidate to run in the special election.

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