Council President Clarke Retiring
City Council President Darrell Clarke announced he would not seek reelection to his 5th District council seat, which he has held since 1999.
Clarke’s announcement comes at a time of significant change to the membership of council, with five members exiting the body to run for mayor, and another because of corruption. Four members were first elected in 2019. In council’s next term, more than half of the membership will have one term or less of experience.
Clarke addressed reporters in the Caucus Room across from the City Council chambers after the regular meeting of council.
“I will be around for the next ten months as the council president working with my colleagues moving the agenda for the city of Philadelphia, and probably in even more aggressive ways than we have in the past,” Clarke said.
Clarke said being a councilmember is the most privileged job one can have, due to the contact councilmembers have with their constituents.
Calling the decision not to seek reelection one of the most difficult he ever had to make, Clarke recounted his time in council, from his days as a staffer, succeeding John Street as councilmember for the 5th District, and eventually taking over the council presidency from Anna Verna.
In a statement released by Council President’s office, Clarke touted the following accomplishments:
Affordable Housing and Neighborhood Preservation.
In 2019, Council created the $400 Million Neighborhood Preservation Initiative, a comprehensive program to build 1,000 affordable homes for sale in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. NPI is also making investments in programs that help homeowners repair existing homes; assist first-time homebuyers with closing costs; untangle tangled titles to help homeowners build generational wealth; invest in neighborhood commercial corridors to spur economic development, as well as resources to help renters avoid evictions and provide housing for the homeless.
Reforming Government & Improving Efficiencies.
Clarke authored Charter change legislation that realigned city agencies to create more efficiencies in local government, including the creation of a new Office of Planning & Development.
From 2020 to 2022, Council has invested over $30 Million to create and fund a Poverty Action Fund, a public-private partnership to begin lifting 100,000 Philadelphia residents out of poverty. In a 2020 inauguration speech, Clarke called the anti-poverty initiative Council’s “Moonshot”.
Violence Prevention and Public Safety.
Council has invested over $200 Million in violence prevention strategies over the last several years, including more than $22 Million in community-based organizations in neighborhoods hit hardest by gun violence. Under President Clarke’s leadership, City Council has sought relief in the Pennsylvania courts from the state legislature’s refusal to either pass stronger state laws against illegal guns or to allow cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and others to approve their own local gun laws. A lawsuit against the legislature is pending in Commonwealth Court.
Public Education Funding.
Under Council President Clarke, Council has steadily voted to increase city funding for the School District of Philadelphia – particularly in the wake of devastating state budget cuts in education funding between 2011 and 2014. Under Council’s leadership, the City has increased local funding for the School District by 62.1%, making it about even with what the state contributes. Clarke sponsored legislation leading to abolition of the state-controlled School Reform Commission and a return to local control of Philadelphia public schools.
Tax Relief for Homeowners & Property Owners.
Clarke and Council approved a series of tax relief and remediation measures to protect homeowners when the city implemented a citywide reassessment of properties. A 2015 Pew report found that Council’s tax relief measures successfully protected longtime homeowners in neighborhoods that experienced sharp property value increases from being taxed out of their homes.
Energy, Sustainability & Jobs.
The Philadelphia Energy Campaign, led by the Philadelphia Energy Authority, is leveraging a $1 billion investment in sustainability programs to create 10,000 jobs over 10 years, and support job training and local, inclusive hiring. The Energy Authority was created under legislation proposed by Clarke, and as President he has significantly expanded the Authority’s mission to include Solarize, an affordable residential solar energy program, as well as a partnership with the School District of Philadelphia to reduce energy costs in school facilities.
Modernized City Council’s Staff & Technical Abilities.
City Council’s technical staff has been modernized, enabling Councilmembers to better develop data-driven solutions to serve their constituents in a rapidly-changing city. During unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, Council increased transparency and public access through its use of technology, and maintained Council’s regular operations.
Gauthier Concerned about Development
Councilmember Jamie Gauthier reiterated her concern over the development of 4601 Market Street site.
Gauthier began her remarks by explaining the recent history of the site; the Nutter Administration spent $52 million to purchase the site with the idea of converting it into the new police headquarters. However, the city eventually decided to purchase the former Inquirer building for this purpose.
The Kenney Administration later sold the site to Iron Stone Real Estate Partners in 2019 with plans to turn it into a public health campus. However, according to Gauthier Iron Stone now plans to build over 1200 market-rate housing units on the land, “which was not part of the agreement, subject to public review.”
Gauthier said she supports residential development at 4601 Market Street because of the location’s proximity to jobs and other resources but expressed concern over affordability.
“But I do not support building a luxury market-rate housing complex unaffordable to neighbors on land the city invested millions of taxpayer dollars into,” Gauthier said. “The city expressed its concerns to ironstone months ago, at which point they said that they are exploring their ability to include affordable housing. Iron Stone continues to say this, but has refused to take actions that prove this is more than just words.”
Gauthier said she now wished to speak directly to Iron Stone, A public meeting will be held on March 1st to discuss the project.
Council Honors Fallen Officer
Council President Clarke also introduced a resolution honoring fallen Temple University police officer Christopher Fitzgerald, who was killed in the line of duty last week.
The resolution praised Fitzgerald’s work as an officer and called his murder a senseless act of gun violence. Fitzgerald is the first Temple Police officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Legislation Passed by Council
Resolution No. 230110
Honoring Eric Brice, Corrie Brown, Michelle Belser, and the Board of Directors of the Oak Lane Youth Association as Heroes of the 9th Council District for their laudable service to the community. Click here to learn more.
Bill No. 220419
Authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property, on behalf of the City of Philadelphia, to acquire fee simple title or a lesser real estate interest from Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development (PAID) to all or a portion of a parcel or parcels of land located in and about the area bounded by 56th Street, Lindbergh Boulevard, 61st Street, Passyunk Avenue, and the Schuylkill River and to grant an easement to PAID for access across the parcel for the construction and maintenance of an accessway, all under certain terms and conditions. Click here to learn more.
Bill No. 220845
Renaming and designating the area of land bounded by 54th Street, Wynnefield Avenue and Woodbine Avenue as “The Wynnefield Veterans Memorial.” Click here to learn more.