Summary of the first session of four members of the Philadelphia City Council

Mayor Chelle L. Parker and the President of the City Council Kenyatta Johnsonwho both took office in January, have understandably taken up most of the oxygen at City Hall this year.

However, the Council has an fascinating class for freshmen, and some of its members have made history just by taking the oath.

Here’s how the four Council newcomers fared between the start of the session and the summer break:

Councilmember Nina Ahmad, Democrat, at immense

Legislation: Ahmad was the lead author of one bill requiring owners of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations to maintain and repair the stations if they go offline. Over.

Notable Moment: Ahmad, a Bangladeshi immigrant, is the first South Asian to win a Philadelphia council seat, and he made history when he was sworn in in January.

Analysis: First-year Council members are often encouraged to keep their heads down and learn about the legislative process by passing one bill, preferably on a non-controversial topic. For the first six months, Ahmad followed the rules. Ahmad, a former scientist and public health researcher, also chaired a hearing on maternal health that she hopes will lead to legislation later this year.

Councilmember Rue Landau, Democrat, overall

Legislation: Landau was the main author of three laws, all of which were adopted. One of them increases the transparency of fees charged by professional tax preparers. Another authorizes the city to deal with consumer protection issues such as fraud and extortion. The third allows restaurants to expand outdoor dining options at adjacent properties if the property owner consents.

Notable Moment: Landau, the first openly gay council member, has made LGBTQ history in Philadelphia several times. In 2014, she and her wife, Kerry Smith, obtained the first marriage license for a same-sex couple in Pennsylvania. In June, she sponsored a resolution recognizing Pride Month, becoming the first member of the LGBTQ community to do so.

Analysis: Landau, a former civil rights lawyer, is a progressive but is not as closely associated with the city’s progressive political organizations as Brooks and O’Rourke. That’s why city hall observers observe how closely he works with his colleagues from the left. So far, Landau appears to be sticking with the pack on major issues, such as budget requests, but also forging his own path, such as promoting street food restaurants.

Councilor Nicolas O’Rourke, Working Families Party, total

Legislation: O’Rourke was not the main author of any fresh laws.

Notable Moment: O’Rourke, who is a pastor, made a splash at the council’s first regular meeting of the year with a long introductory speech that included the singing of the national anthem. He later poked fun at himself in a social media post.

Analysis: Over the last two election cycles, O’Rourke and council member Kendra Brooks won two council seats reserved for minority parties or independent candidates that Republicans had held for 70 years, marking a major shift to the left in the council’s composition. Although he wasn’t the lead author of any bills, he worked closely with Brooks and other progressive members, and by sticking together during budget negotiations, the group won victories, including funding for the city’s rental assistance program. O’Rourke said through a spokesman that he “intended to be collaborative, which has manifested in his work as an effective advocate for the budget.

Councilmember Jeffery “Jay” Young Jr., Democrat, 5th District (North Philadelphia, Downtown)

Legislation: Young was the principal author of 18 bills, 10 of which were adopted. He is involved in more legislation than his colleagues because he is the only new member representing the district, which requires him to introduce legislation regarding zoning and parking changes and the sale of city-owned land.

Notable Moment: When news broke in May that the Parker administration was planning to expand a homeless shelter in Young’s district to add beds for drug addicts, Young was outraged that he had not received advance notice and did everything he could to block it, passing in June br. a bill prohibiting the city from extending the facility’s lease.

Analysis: Young won the seat last year under bizarre circumstances when all other candidates vying to replace former Council President Darrell L. Clarke were disqualified from the ballot. As a result, few knew what to expect this year from Young, who was a former Clarke employee but did not have the approval of his old boss. Young surprised some by speaking out on major political issues and not shying away from clashing with powerful opponents, from the mayor to the 76ers, whose opposition to the Center City arena proposal.

We line up (early) for an open seat in the House of Representatives

As soon as state Rep. Donna Bullock (D-Philadelphia) announced she would take over Project HOME, several Democrats were already lining up to take her place in Harrisburg.

There are rumors that at least three people – two district leaders and one of Bullock’s top staffers – are considering taking Bullock’s position after she leaves the House of Representatives.

32nd Ward leader Rev. Darnell Deans, 28th Ward leader Keith Sea Harris and Bullock’s chief of staff Odessa Tate are the top candidates to fill the vacancy.

Bullock did not say when she would resign, but House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (R-Philadelphia) said she would remain at least until budget negotiations. She also announced she will not seek re-election, so whoever runs to fill her vacancy in the special election will also replace her in the November election.

Harris, Deans and Tate could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Precinct leaders in Bullock’s district — which includes parts of Strawberry Mansion, Fairmount, Brewerytown and North Philly — will convene in the next few months to choose a candidate for the predominantly Democratic district.

We’re on break

Here’s a programming note: The Clout column is going on vacation until the November election.

To our readers: The Inquirer’s reporting will continue to feature plenty of coverage of political intrigue.

To our tipsters: Keep visiting! We still have a site to fill. Anna Orso can be reached at and Sean Collins Walsh at

And to our heroes: our column may take a longer break, but unfortunately for you, it won’t.

Staff writer Anna Orso contributed to this column.

Clout delivers often irreverent news and analysis about people, power and politics.

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