Resign-to-run charter change clears Philly Council committee hurdle

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A City Council committee has voted to send a proposal before voters to remove the requirement that Philadelphia officials resign before running for another elected office.

As things now stand, a City Council member would have to resign to run for mayor, while a state senator or congressman could run while keeping the office he holds.

Councilman David Oh introduced the amendment to give Philadelphia politicians an even playing field, but Joan Markman, Philadelphia’s chief integrity officer, said the existing rule should stay in place.

“This is a solution looking for a problem,” she said. “If a public employee presently elected or not wishes to seek an elected office other than re-election to a current office, he or she should do that and fully focus the necessary time attention and effort on that endeavor, but not on the city payroll and not while funded by the Philadelphia taxpayers.”

Ellen Kaplan of the election watchdog group The Committee of 70 said the restriction should be lifted.

“Philadelphia needs more competitive elections and we believe eliminating resign to run will have that effect,” she said.

A similar charter change in 2007 was defeated. If approved by the voters the effective date would be January of 2016, which would mean city officials hoping to replace Mayor Michael Nutter would still have to resign to run.

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