ABOVE PHOTO: Philadelphia Council President Darrell Clarke speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Philadelphia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
After serving 12 years as president of a City Council making unprecedented, historic investments in building affordable housing, working to reduce poverty, and strengthening public safety in neighborhoods, Council President Darrell L. Clarke announced Thursday that he will not be a candidate for re-election to Council in 2023.
At the Thursday news conference, Clarke said that after serious consideration, he has decided not to run for another four-year term in Council. Clarke will serve the remainder of his current term, which expires at the end of this year.
“I’m extremely proud of the collective work of this legislative body so far during my term as its President,” Clarke said. “From making the largest single investment in affordable housing and neighborhood preservation in Philadelphia history, to a comprehensive program to begin moving 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty, to the work we’re doing to invest in community-based violence prevention to make Philadelphia safer, City Council has led the way in taking action to make our city a better, cleaner and safer place to live and work.”
“We have much more work to do this year,” Clarke continued. “Implementing reforms to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, rolling out the first class of Public Safety Enforcement Officers, creating a new Chief Public Safety Director, studying our workforce and recommending reforms to help with worker attraction and retention, creating a new Deputy Commerce official focused on job creation – all these initiatives and others are on the plate in 2023. We have work to do.”
Clarke was first elected to City Council as 5th District Councilmember in 1999, replacing former 5th District Member and Council President John F. Street, who resigned to run for mayor. Clarke was re-elected to Council in 2003, 2007 and 2011 – after which he obtained the support of his Council colleagues to succeed Anna Verna as Council President. Clarke was re-elected to Council in 2015 and 2019, and unanimously supported each time by his colleagues for another term as Council President.
During Clarke’s 12 years as its president, Council has made a series of significant and oft-times unprecedented votes and investments in Philadelphia residents:
• 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.
• Poverty Reduction. 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 the 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.
“I love my job, serving the residents of the 5th Council District,” Clarke said. “It’s the best job in the world. And I enjoy the trust of serving my colleagues as president of this body. I’m confident in our members and their abilities. It’s been the privilege of a lifetime to serve the people of Philadelphia. And I’m excited and looking forward to continuing to serve the public in meaningful ways.”
Leave a Comment