Philadelphia City Council sets date set for special election to replace Henon

A closeup of Philadelphia City Hall.

A closeup of Philadelphia City Hall. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

A special election to replace former Philadelphia Councilmember Bobby Henon will be held on May 17, which coincides with the date of the city’s spring primary.

Henon resigned earlier this year after his conviction of federal corruption and bribery charges.

The Writ for a Special Election was issued by Council President Darrell Clarke, fulfilling his requirement under the city’s Home Rule Charter. Under those rules, when a vacancy happens, the council president must issue a writ to the local board of elections to fill the spot for the unexpired term. Henon’s term was set to run through December 2023. In Philadelphia that “local board of elections” is the City Commissioners, who oversee election activity here.

“It is vitally important that the people of the Sixth District have full representation in City Council,” Clarke said in a statement issued with the writ.

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Now that the date for the election has been set, the political parties will put forward their candidates and those nominees will appear on the May ballot. Driscoll has a distinct advantage since an overwhelming majority of Philadelphia voters are registered as Democrats.

In his statement, Clarke said, “City Council will welcome whomever the voters in the Sixth District choose in May as their Councilmember.”

That choice is expected to be Mike Driscoll who was selected in February by the Democratic ward leaders as the party’s nominee. He currently represents Northeast Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania House. With a seven-to-three Democratic to Republican majority in the district, Driscoll’s ascension to the 6th Council District seat is a virtual certainty.

Driscoll, 61, won his 173 state House seat in 2014. A graduate of Cardinal Dougherty High School and LaSalle University, he went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He went into elected office after years in government, serving as deputy secretary of the Department of General Services under Gov. Bob Casey.

The winner of the election won’t have much time to get comfortable in the position, since they will have to run again in 2023 for the job, as part of the regularly scheduled election.

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