Philly City Council President Clarke opts not to run for re-election

Clarke has been head of council for more than a decade. He plans to stay active until his replacement is inaugurated.

An up-close photo of Darrell Clarke speaking into a microphone in City Council chambers.

Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia City Council will have a new leader next year, in addition to a new mayor.

Current City Council President Darrell Clarke announced he will not run for re-election at the end of his term.  He’s been in his position since taking over for Anna Verna 12 years ago.

He decided not to run again despite many people urging him to stay on.

“I think everybody and their mother has called me about what I’m going to do, this is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make,” he said.

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Clarke said he’s worked hard during his time as an aide and as a member of council since 1999. Before his election to City Council, he served as an aide to Council President and former Mayor John Street starting in 1980.

“Being a councilperson, I believe, is probably the most privileged job that one can have, because the simple reality is that you are the face of the government, more so than a state rep., more so than a mayor, more so than a state senator, more so than a congressperson,” Clarke said. “At the end of the day, we are in this building every Thursday accessible for individuals who want to come talk to us in the hallway in the council chambers. ”

He went on to say that working in a legislative body with the other council members which he called “16 bosses” isn’t an easy job.

“I hope that I am remembered as the person that worked with a group of council members over a period of years that achieved some very significant positive things,” he said.

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Those positive things include securing $400 million for neighborhood preservation and affordable housing, a $30 million poverty action fund, and increased public education funding.

His decision sets up a battle for leadership of the city’s legislative body, with several council veterans already talking about going for the position.

Councilmembers Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla, Curtis Jones, and Cindy Bass have publicly expressed interest in the position. A vote for the job will be taken along with other leadership posts when the fall election is over and the new council is sworn in.

In the meantime, all 17 council seats are up for election. The outcome of that vote, as well as the race for mayor, will have an impact on how things sort out for the leadership positions.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct year Clarke joined City Council.

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