After four decades in City Hall, Philadelphia City Council President Darrell L. Clarke announced that he will not seek reelection after the conclusion of a Council meeting on Thursday.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Clarke told reporters that “At the end of the day. I think it’s my time to do some other things. I will continue to be involved in public service. I will max out the next 10 months as it relates to what I’m going to do on behalf of the City Council of Philadelphia. There will be no slowing down, because it’s important.”
Clarke’s decision is a capper on a head-spinning time of transition in City Hall. In January 2024, not only will a new mayor and city controller take office, but they will be joined by at least 12 new members out of 17 who will have served one term or less.
”This has been the most difficult decision that I have had to make in my life,” Clarke said Thursday.
That decision officially kicks off two succession battles — one for his North Philadelphia-based 5th District seat and another for the Council presidency, an enormously influential office that controls the flow of legislation and can make or break a mayor’s agenda.
Candidates are already positioning themselves for those contests behind the scenes. The four veteran Democrats on Council – Kenyatta Johnson, Curtis Jones Jr., Cindy Bass and Mark Squilla – said Thursday that they are considering running to succeed Clarke as president.
And in the 5th District, Clarke endorsed his former chief of staff Curtis Wilkerson. The Inquirer reports that attorney Jeffery “Jay” Young Jr.; Aissia Richardson, a staffer for State Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia); attorney Patrick Griffin; and Jon Hankins Jr., who according to his website is president of a fashion company, are also among the likely candidates.
The Democrat was first elected to City Council in 1999, representing the 5th District seat formerly held by John Street, who then resigned to run for mayor.
“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.”
Clarke, 70, is the proud father of a Philadelphia public schools graduate, now a doctor, and a proud grandfather as well. He grew up in the city’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood and lives in North Philadelphia.