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City Councilmembers Allan Domb and Derek Green, both potential candidates for Philadelphia mayor in 2023, each delivered a swan song of sorts on Thursday, after lawmakers passed next year’s budget and handled other city business before adjourning for summer recess.
Neither formally announced a mayoral campaign in so many words, but both said outright that it might be their last council session.
It’s a strong hint they may resign before Council returns on Sept. 15.
Domb came right out of the gate with prepared remarks, saying “I’m feeling reflective – especially since this could be the last time I speak before City Council in my current position.”
He went on to discuss violence, crime and financial insecurity many city residents are facing, pointedly criticizing the current executive branch for a lack of leadership. “Philadelphians deserve a leader who will take action and who will be a positive force for change. A leader who actually wants the job,” he said.
Domb, an at-large councilmember first elected in 2015, previously confirmed to Billy Penn he was “exploring” a run for mayor. After today’s session, he tweeted the prepared remarks.
Speaking after Domb, Green also acknowledged it might be his last time addressing Council and reportedly thanked his staff.
Green, also at-large councilmember first elected in 2015, has not publicly confirmed his consideration of a mayoral run, but he has been seen as a likely candidate for some time.
Under Philadelphia’s resign-to-run rule, both would have to step down from their council seats before officially campaigning for mayor. This also applies to several other councilmembers rumored to be thinking about a mayoral run, as well as City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, who recently sent an email to supporters saying she’s “considering” entering the race.
When might these potential candidates actually resign? The timing comes with a few considerations.
Leaving constituents without representation
Under Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter, any vacancy on City Council can be filled if the council president orders a special election. This must be done with 30 days notice.
To maximize participation and minimize confusion, special elections often take place on a pre-scheduled primary or general election day. The next one coming up is Nov. 8, which means Council President Darrell Clarke would have to order a special election by Oct. 9 to line up the dates.
Does that mean councilmembers will resign before early October? It’s what they would do if they wanted to minimize how long a Council seat lingers empty.
As at-large representatives, this could be less important for Domb and Green compared to district councilmembers, whose resignation would leave their former constituents without representation until their seats are filled.
A special election happened recently to fill a vacancy in the 6th district after Bobby Henon resigned post-bribery conviction. Councilmember Mike Driscoll was nominated by the Democratic party — there was no primary because it was a special election — and he ran unopposed on May 17.
In 2014, former at-large Councilmember Bill Green became chairman of the School Reform Commission, leaving a vacancy. Clarke called a special election and Ed Neilson was selected by voters.
Pulling in the cash
Announcing a campaign would allow candidates to kick fundraising into high gear, potentially getting a leg up on the rest of the field.
Campaign finance limits apply on an annual basis for Philadelphia candidates, so getting generous donors on board this year would allow them to hit those same people up again next year without going over.
Note: All of the potential mayoral candidates currently on Council already have campaign committees. These have been getting donations while they remain in office. That’s allowed.
Forgoing a salary
The resign-to-run rule is not without its critics. One of the points argued is that it’s inequitable to force someone to give up their salary to run. Some would-be candidates could be discouraged from running, critics say, because they don’t have the financial means to quit their city job for months and run a campaign.
Eventually, any serious candidate for mayor will have to announce, and therefore stop working for the city. It’s high stakes, especially in a crowded field.
However, Domb already donates his Council salary — he’s financially well off, thanks to his real estate business — so this wouldn’t affect him much.
Green also has another job outside City Council. He’s a lawyer with Philly firm Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel.