Stephanie Singer ousted as City Commission chairwoman

Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer celebrates the court ruling on the state voter-ID law. Critics of the law argued that it could suppress turnout in heavily Democratic areas such as Philadelphia and that its implementation was rushed to affect the outcome of the presidential election. APRIL SAUL / Staff

The Philadelphia City Commission, the agency that runs elections in the city, just ousted its chairwoman, Stephanie Singer, one day after the general election.  Commissioners Al Schmidt and Anthony Clark voted Wednesday morning to dump Singer and make themselves co-chairmen.

Schmidt, the lone Republican on the three-member board, was elected last November in the same reform movement that put Singer on the board.  He made the motion Wednesday morning to remove Singer as chairwoman, saying it was time for "new leadership."  Clark, the only veteran on the board, concurred.

Schmidt and Clarke have held growing concerns about what they see as unilateral power moves by Singer. In September, they clashed with her as she tried to give her chief deputy a raise and make other personnel moves.  Two weeks ago, the commission's top lawyer refused to answer a question from Singer, saying he would not be "interrogated."

Schmidt and Clark joined in June in a series of measures to limit her power in meetings. They also clarified that Singer's election in January to the chairwoman's post could be undone with the votes of two commissioners.  Singer had checked with the city's Law Department and found that to be accurate.

After the meeting, Schmidt said he had not conferred with Clark or Singer about his plans. He said he remained confident all three could still work together. Meanwhile, Singer said she was surprised by the move. She noted there had been conflicts between the commissioners over a variety of issues, including pay levels for her staffers. But she said she would continue her efforts to improve elections in Philadelphia.

"I'm here to serve the people of Phliadelphia," Singer said.