Philly voters prefer city candidates to ‘resign to run’ for another office

 Philadelphia's City Hall, seen under a clouded sky. Those holding city office must continue following the

Philadelphia's City Hall, seen under a clouded sky. Those holding city office must continue following the "resign to run" policy after a referendum was voted down Tuesday.(Nathaniel Hamilton/for NewsWorks)

Philadelphia voters have rejected a controversial measure that would have allowed city politicians to keep their posts while campaigning for another.

During Tuesday’s primary election, a ballot question asked voters to toss out the city’s longstanding “resign to run” rule.

The move, which would require changing the city’s charter, was defeated by a 54 percent to 49 percent margin.

Republican attorney Matt Wolfe couldn’t be happier.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Wolfe was strongly opposed to the effort from the start and worked hard to spread the word about the ballot question during his unsuccessful bid to replace City Councilman Bill Green.

“If a City Council member is, at the same time they’re supposed to be serving, running for another office, in whose interest do you expect them to serve?” said Wolfe.

“In your interest, the people who voted for them? Or in the interest of the voters who are going to be voting for them in the other office they’re running for, which will certainly be a different district? Or in the special interests who are going to finance that race?”

Supporters of the ballot question argued that “resign to run” compromises Philadelphia’s political clout because leaders elsewhere in Pennsylvania don’t have to give up one job to try for another.

The restriction also encourages politicians to stay put for multiple terms, supporters said.

This is the second time city voters have opposed overturning “resgn to run.” A similar ballot question was struck down in 2007.

“I think it can pass at some point in time. I think it should pass. I don’t know if I’ll be here by the time that happens,” said City Councilman David Oh, who brought the ballot question to the table.

Under the city’s charter, the issue cannot be put to voters again for another five years.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal