For residents of Philadelphia's Eighth Council District, this could be a very New Year, indeed: Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, first elected in 1996, could be having a change of heart about seeking a new term.
Until recently, all expectations were that Miller wanted to keep her seat.
But last week she told staff she had still not made up her mind - with an almost certain battle in May's primary just five months away.
People close to the councilwoman say she does not seem to be in campaign mode. A check of campaign finance reports suggests she has had little to no fund-raising activity. The last report, filed in January 2010, said she had a paltry $12,000 on hand.
Miller, who is 64, would also retire with a sizable retirement check - more than $195,000 - since she has enrolled in the DROP program.
The Eighth District has proven itself in recent elections to be fertile ground for political challengers. Yet Miller has managed to win election each time, getting just more than 30 percent of the vote in 2007.
So far, three candidates are actively campaigning. Verna Tyner, a former aide to Councilman William K. Greenlee and community leader in the city's Tioga section; Cindy Bass, aide to U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah; and 12th Ward Leader Greg Palmier. Also, two others - Wilson Goode Jr.'s aide, LaTrice Bryant, and Marian Tasco's aide, Derek Green - have indicated interest.
If she does bail out, Miller could be the third sitting Council member to do so, joining Joan Krajewski and Jack Kelly. Neither is expected to return.
And if all three don't come back, that could amount to a practically historic turnover on the 17-member Council, given the three new faces - Bill Green, Maria Quinones Sanchez and Curtis Jones Jr., - first elected four years ago.
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