State Rep. Denny O'Brien, a Northeast Philly Republican who represents the 169th District, today said he will run for City Council At-large in the May 17 primary election. O'Brien was first elected to the General Assembly in 1976 and served as Speaker of the House in 2007-2008.
O'Brien said he hopes to use an At-Large seat -- two of seven are reserved by City Charter for minority party winners, in this case the Republicans -- to discuss his favorite topics of criminal justice, health care and helping children with disabilities. He will run in a crowded field. Councilman Jack Kelly, one of the current At-Large Republicans, is retiring and Councilman Frank Rizzo is considered vulnerable because he is enrolled in the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan. Two other Council members, Democrats Joan Krajewski and Donna Reed Miller, are also retiring and it is not clear if Council President Anna Verna will run again.
"I like the idea that City Council is being reshaped dramatically and there's a chance to shape a new conversation," O'Brien said today.
O'Brien expects to use his track record in criminal justice legislation, especially his bill to create a DNA database for sexual offenders, a fetal homicide bill and tougher sentencing for drug dealers. O'Brien said he understand the limits of Council's power but thinks it can do more.
"I really don't think they understand the process of being a legislative body and doing what they can with what they have," O'Brien said. "And maybe I can help them with that for a couple of years."
Among the Republicans who plan to run At-Large or are considering it: John Giordano, who served on Gov. Corbett's campaign team in Philadelphia, former Congressional candidate Joe McColgan, attorney David Oh, hospital administrator Elmer Money, former ward leader Adam Lang, former mayoral candidate Al Talbenberger and Marie DeLany, founder and director of Overington House.