Philly Council members looking ahead to new constituents

On the same day union protesters shouted down Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget speech, City Council passed a resolution speeding up the switch to new district boundaries.

As of Monday, a new map will govern which council members that residents should complain to about potholes or zoning changes.

The City Council District boundaries were redrawn two years ago as part of redistricting and were set to become effective after the 2015 elections.

Debatable timing

Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez says she still has questions about making the switch now.

“I think there should be a transition period,” she said. “I think if constituents and folks have some concerns about it, we should talk about it and publicly debate the merits of it. The goal is to get clearer representation, not disenfranchise voters.”

Council President Darrell Clarke says he supports the change so council members can start serving people before asking for their vote.

“I think that it makes some sense to have a formal process as opposed to what we traditionally do where people will cherry pick areas to represent that they will officially represent in the future, rather than currently representing all areas,” Clarke said. “I think that having a finite process that says on such and such a date you will represent this particular area makes a lot of sense.”

Quinones-Sanchez says she will keep serving people, even if they have been redrawn out of her district.

“By no means is it my intent to disenfranchise anyone who voted for me,” she vowed. “I’m finishing off projects in my district that will not be mine in 2015. I made commitments — I intend to fulfill them and I believe everyone intends to fulfill those commitments and those responsibilities.”

Clarke says he would be willing to hold hearings on the transition.

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