'Resign to run' change advances

David Oh hopes his proposal will encourage more Philly pols to end up in this place.

Councilman David Oh's proposal to get rid of Philadelphia's "resign to run" rule, in which elected officials must quit their jobs to run for any other office, made it out of committee today.

If approved by the full Council, the proposal would go before the voters in the May primary, but it wouldn't go into effect until 2016 - after the next mayoral race.

Oh hopes the bill will give Philadelphia a greater voice in Harrisburg by encouraging the city's top-tier politicians to run for office down the Turnpike. 

"Your mayor, your City Council, your commissioners, your controller, your D.A. ... They should not be limited from going into statewide elections," Oh said. "On big topics, we [Philadelphians] are muffled."

The rule is often mentioned when Council members are rumored to be considering mayoral runs.

Oh's proposal will be less helpful to them than to those seeking office in Harrisburg because it doesn't allow candidates to appear on the same ballot twice. (Council and mayoral elections happen at the same time, whereas state General Assembly and gubernatorial elections occur on a different cycle.)

In other words, a Council member who wants to be mayor would still have to give up his or her seat at the end of the term, even if they lose the mayor's race. But a Council member who wants to be a state senator (or a mayor who wants to be governor) can run without risking their seat. 

Joan Markman, the administration's chief integrity officer, testified against the proposal, saying the framers of the Home Rule Charter wanted to ensure elected officials weren't distracted from their current office. 

"This is clearly a solution looking for a problem," Markman wrote in her testimony. "If a public employee, presently elected or not, wishes to seek an elected office (other than re-election to a current office), he or she should do that, and fully focus the necessary time, attention, and effort on that endeavor–but not on the City payroll, funded by the Philadelphia taxpayers."

Nutter resigned his Council seat to run for mayor in the 2007 race.

Committee members Bill Green, Bill Greenlee, Wilson Goode and Bobby Henon voted to advance the bill.