Kelley Hodge spent some time last fall talking to her family about a run for district attorney in the May Democratic primary election in Philadelphia.
The timing didn’t feel right. She let the opportunity pass.
On Monday, Hodge will be sworn in as the city’s interim district attorney, to complete the last 5½ months of former District Attorney Seth Williams’ second term.
Hodge campaigned for the job after all. But instead of the city’s voters, Hodge had to win the support of the Common Pleas Court Board of Judges, which voted Thursday to make her the city’s chief law enforcement officer.
Hodge, 45, said she expects to return to Elliott Greenleaf, the suburban law firm where she now works, when the next district attorney takes office in January. She does not rule out a run for the office in the next election, four years from now.
“Prospectively, I look at everything that is available, if I see that it’s something good for me, good for my family,” Hodge said. “That’s probably the most I can say regarding that or any other opportunity.”
Hodge said it was premature to say if she would be making any personnel changes when she takes office Monday.
“I want to go into the office and reassure people that I’m here to make sure that the cloud that they may have felt that they were working under is lifted,” Hodge said. “I’m not walking into this with any type of prediction or foreshadowing.”
The job opened up last month when Williams resigned, just before pleading guilty in a federal corruption case. He is now in federal custody, awaiting sentencing in October.
Hodge cited the “many good things” Williams did in the office, including programs she worked on such as Veterans Court, Mental Health Court, and the Small Amount of Marijuana Diversion Program.
“I think that unfortunately there were other things that became distractions and diluted some of those good things,” Hodge said, an oblique reference to Williams’ criminal behavior, which included taking gifts from individuals who sought his influence.
Among the 14 candidates for the interim position were former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham and Deputy District Attorney John Delaney, two of Hodge’s former bosses.
Both praised her Friday as intelligent and hardworking, noting her reputation for getting things done.
Hodge, who grew up in Montgomery County and started her legal career as a public defender in Richmond, Va., spent eight years as a prosecutor in Philadelphia, at times leading the Municipal Court Unit and as deputy chief of the Juvenile Court Division.
Hodge spent some time in a holding room Wednesday with Abraham and Delaney as they and other candidates waited to make presentations to the Board of Judges.
She said it was comfortable to be among former colleagues, even as she battled nerves about what she would tell the judges.
“I would describe myself as someone who wants to try to maintain a sense of calm, that even if there is a potential storm swirling around, to try to go ahead and recognize that we need to take a breath, look at what’s in front of us, and take things step by step,” Hodge said. “So I don’t like to fan the flames of anxiety or stress.”