Clarke: No Decision on Replacing Councilman Bill Green

Snagged in the City Hall corridors Wednesday by reporters, Council President Darrell L. Clarke said he hasn’t made a decision on whether to call for a special election to fill the at-large seat of Bill Green, who was sworn-in as the chair of the School Reform Commission on Tuesday.

One problem, Clarke said, is that he hasn’t yet received Green’s resignation letter.

“You have to be official,” he said. “My good friend the Councilman is clearly leaving, but we have to have a letter of resignation for the record.”

Clarke said he expected to get that letter Wednesday, but he didn’t know if a decision would be forthcoming.

“I don’t think there’s need for me to rush to a decision on that,” he said. “There will be conversations with other members of Council, particularly leadership, with respect to a special election.”

Clarke has until 60 days before the May 20 primary to call for a special election.

Filling an at-large vacancy on Council isn’t considered as urgent as filling a vacancy among the district Council members, who have to be much more responsive to constituent requests.

If Clarke were to call for a special election, the ward leaders for each party would nominate a candidate for a run-off. The Democratic candidate, by dint of the party’s overwhelming voter registration advantage, would be considered the favorite. The winner, however, would have to face election again in 2015, when all the at-large seats will be on the ballot.

Clarke could call a special election to resolve a tough inter-party fight. The one most political insiders are eyeing is the battle involving state Rep. Ed Neilson, who because of redistricting was forced to run against state Rep. John Sabatina Jr., the son of a powerful ward leader in Northeast Philadelphia.

One of those two could be nominated to Green’s seat, thus avoiding an ugly primary showdown.

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