Philly Council returns from holiday break facing election year distractions

Council President Darrell Clarke is seen inside the chamber

File photo: City Council President Darrell Clarke in January 2020. (Jared Piper/Philadelphia City Council)

Philadelphia City Council returns this week after the holiday break with an ambitious agenda and lots of work to be done as members of the city’s legislative body all prepare their election campaigns.

Council President Darrell Clarke said they plan to work hard to get a lot done in what could be considered a lame-duck session.

Even though this is an election year for both mayor and city council, Clarke said they will be able to accomplish much especially when it comes to housing and the effort to reduce violence in the city.

“You’ll see us continue on those investments we made in violence prevention and in housing initiatives. You’re going to see a significant level of commitment as it relates to moving forward on affordable housing.”

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Council has also set up a special committee to review the enormous number of city job vacancies.

“We actually have more than 25,000 people on the waiting list for job opportunities in the city of Philadelphia, across the board from police, fire, sanitation, department, water, literally all the way across the board,” he said. “So we couldn’t figure out what the challenge was for moving that 25,000 people into these 4,000 job opportunities that currently exist.”

Council will also have to deal with another short-handed group, with expectations that Councilmember David Oh could leave office to run for the Republican mayoral nomination. Council already has a vacancy created with Helen Gym leaving to join the crowded field running for mayor after the other council vacancies were filled in November.

Council and Mayor Jim Kenney also have to agree on a spending plan, which is never easy even in a good year, but Clarke says negotiations are already underway to resolve issues early because of the upcoming election.

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Election years are usually difficult for getting any tax increases approved so the budget will likely have to stand on its own within the available money.

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