Philly City Council President Darrell Clarke considers retiring, unclear on his future plans

Darrell Clarke has been City Council president for more than a decade, and while he’s considering retirement, some are urging him to stay for another term.

A closeup of Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke

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

The leader of Philadelphia City Council is considering retirement, but he admits outside influences are trying to get him to run for re-election.

Darrell Clarke is 70, and admits he’s thought about leaving office at the end of the year, but others have urged him to stay in the position he’s held since 2012.

“I’ve been hit over the head pretty much every day, telling me I can’t leave,” Clarke said. “So if I take the time and deliberate that conversation, I think that people should respect that.”

The decision comes at a time when about half of council has resigned to join the crowded field running for mayor of Philadelphia. David Oh was the latest to leave office this week. Their departures will likely lead to a major influx of new council members. That could include those who haven’t shown support for Clarke to be the leader of the group.

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The president is chosen by an election of those elected by the voters and there is no guarantee that Clarke could win re-election to the leadership role. He would likely win another four years as a council member if he chooses to run.

Clarke’s Chief of Staff Curtis Wilkerson stepped down from his position this week and has started the petition process to get on the ballot for the 5th district seat that Clarke currently occupies.

Clarke said Wilkerson would make a good replacement for him, but couched that statement, adding “but I haven’t made that decision yet.”

If Clarke were to retire, Councilman Curtis Jones says he’d be at the front of the line to run for Council president.

“I’ve earned it,” Jones said. “I’ve been through many battles. I’ve been through deficits. I’ve been through surpluses. And each are equally hard to manage… that takes a special personality up there that can listen, not be judgmental and extract a good for the city.”

If he decides to run for re-election, Clarke needs 750 voter signatures on nominating petitions by March 7th.

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