Former Philly Councilmember Donna Reed Miller dies at 77

The former council member worked to improve the quality of life in Philadelphia, especially in the 8th Councilmanic District, where she lived.

Donna Reed Miller

Former Philadelphia City Councilmember Donna Reed Miller is answering questions in City Hall. (WHYY File)

A former Philly City Council member who represented large parts of Northwest Philadelphia has died at the age of 77.

Donna Reed Miller represented the 8th District from 1996 to 2012, representing neighborhoods from Chestnut Hill to Nicetown Tioga.  

City Council spokesperson Vincent Thompson said she was a political force, especially in Germantown.

“She mentored under the late Dave Richardson, the state representative, one of the first Black state representatives in Pennsylvania history and she was really focused on Germantown and the people that lived there,” he said

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Thompson said Miller was his babysitter when he was a kid, adding that her neighborhood pride stood out as she represented the city.

“She was very big on quality of life issues, making sure there was legislation for things that happened in her district that improved the lives of people.”

Mayor Cherelle Parker remembered her as someone who “worked on criminal justice reform on issues like ban-the-box legislation and gun violence prevention through stronger gun laws for Philadelphia.”

Parker said Miller worked tirelessly for her election as the first Black woman to become mayor of Philadelphia, adding that she will miss her deeply.

Miller was also behind the council’s threat to withhold funding for construction to expand the Pennsylvania Convention Center if minority hiring on the project was not improved. She was part of an effort to mandate reporting of missing guns and fought court challenges to the legislation. She also fought to prohibit those with a domestic violence restraining order from owning a firearm.

Miller opted not to run for re-election in 2011 and said she didn’t believe it was a lifetime job. Current Councilmember Cindy Bass won the election for her vacated post.

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No cause of death has been announced and funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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