Feb 24, 2023 - News

Philadelphia council president Clarke retiring

Philadelphia council president Darrell Clarke

Council President Darrell Clarke. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty

Council President Darrell Clarke will not run for re-election this year, ending his dozen-year tenure leading the City Council.

Why it matters: Clarke is one of the city's most influential political leaders , with influence over Philly’s nearly $6 billion budget. His departure is the most significant among an exodus of legislators from the City Council leading up to this year’s primary election.

  • The five other legislators resigned late last year to run for mayor.

What’s happening: The Democrat, whose 5th District includes parts of both City Center and North Philly, will serve through the end of the year, when the council’s current four-year term ends.

Flashback: Clarke’s career in the City Council started in the early 1980s as a staff member for then-Council President John Street. He eventually rose to Street’s chief of staff.

  • In 1999, Clarke was elected to the City Council and took over the council president’s gavel in 2011.

Between the lines: Clarke’s leadership has been marked by few public feuds among members, where deals on legislation, the budget and other issues have been worked out behind closed doors.

What he’s saying: In a statement released yesterday, Clarke reflected on his accomplishments and focused on issues the legislature will take on in 2023, including creating the city’s first chief public safety director.

What we're watching: All 17 members of the City Council are up for re-election this year, along with the mayor, sheriff and others.

Who will take over as council president next year remains to be seen.

  • Several Democrats have expressed their intention to seek the leadership position, including Councilmember Curtis Jones, per the Inquirer.

Meanwhile: Clarke’s 5th District seat has become an open election for the first time in decades.

  • A clearer idea of who will compete for the seat will come in early March when nomination petitions are due, which are required to get on the May primary ballot.

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