By Troy Graham / Inquirer Staff Writer
City Councilman David Oh introduced a bill Thursday to end Philadelphia’s resign-to-run rule, which bars the city’s elected officials from running for a new office without first resigning their current position.
The change would have to be approved by the voters as an amendment to the City Charter. The amendment would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2016, and would not affect the next mayoral election.
Oh’s legislation also would not allow an elected official to run for two offices at the same time, meaning Council members could not seek reelection and run for mayor, an office that is elected on the same cycle. As many as five Council members at least have contemplated entering the 2015 mayoral race.
Other city offices elected on a different cycle, like the City Controller, would be able to run for mayor without resigning.
Oh, an at-large Republican, said he was seeking the change so city elected officials would be encouraged to seek higher offices, particularly in Washington and Harrisburg, where the city’s clout has been in decline. He told the city Ethics Board this summer that city elected officials hang on to their positions too long, creating “a bottleneck of elected officials.”
The change also would eliminate the awkward dance many officials now have to perform when they explore running for a different office, testing the waters without ever admitting publicly their ambitions.
Oh called the legislation “good government” and said the change had the support of the Ethics Board and the watchdog group Committee of Seventy.
“By eliminating this provision in the City Charter, we are leveling the playing field for Philadelphia residents and businesses to be better represented,” he said. “We need more political power and more political sway.”
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