A century of City Council experience went into the history books yesterday — replaced by six new members — and a former John Street protege, Darrell Clarke, was sworn in as Council president.
But one question lingered after all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the inauguration ceremony: Will former Mayor John Street have more influence over the incoming Council than current Mayor Michael Nutter?
“I think both Clarke and Nutter will try to establish a relationship with each other. Both recognize that they could use each other,” Zack Stalberg of political watchdog Committee of Seventy said. “The odds are that they’ll end up not getting along much of the time, which will give Street a chance to insert himself.”
Clarke thanked his two mentors, former Council president Anna Verna and Street, who first hired him as a constituent service representative.
“I would not be standing here today if not for John Street,” Clarke said. “Street always will be my friend and mentor — I’ll always be able to call him up if I need advice — but as a 30-year municipal employee, I think I know what I’m doing by now.”
He also added that Nutter “supported somebody else for Council president,” but “the reality is, we have to work together.”
Stalberg was dubious.
“Certainly on a day like today, everyone feels good and — generally speaking — says the right things. But whether that good feeling will prevail over time is anybody’s guess.”
Fresh blood on council
Mark Squilla, 1st District: A 25-year state systems analyst for the Auditor General, Squilla aims to create jobs through waterfront development and wants to cut Council salaries and perks.
Kenyatta Johnson, 2nd District: Former House Representative pledges safer neighborhoods, more job opportunities, better education and homeownership protection.
Bobby Henon, 6th District: Longtime political director for the electrician’s union Local 98, he served on Mayor Street’s 2003 transition team and has been involved in veterans and health projects.
Cindy Bass, 8th District: Bass served for a decade as senior policy advisor to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and is dedicated to increasing the role of women and minorities in politics.
David Oh, Councilman At-Large: Former assistant district attorney is Council’s first Asian-American member. He wants more government transparency and work on business initiatives.
Dennis O’Brien, Councilman At-Large: The first minority party House Speaker in Pennsylvania history focused on healthcare issues and anti-crime legislation — including prison reform.