Former Philadelphia Councilwoman Joan Krajewski has died at age 79.

The Northeast Philadelphia Democrat represented the 6th District from 1980 until 2012, when she retired.

Councilman Bobby Henon, her successor representing the 6th District, said in a statement that Krajewski died this morning. Current and former members of the council recalled Krajewski as a staunch defender of Northeast Philadelphia and a supportive colleague.

"Her feisty nature and sharp political acumen made her equal parts legendary and approachable as a political leader in the Northeast," Henon said. He called Krajewski "an unyielding voice for her constituents" and a "model for public service that many have tried to emulate."

Krajewski had recently been on oxygen for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to NewsWorks, and had surgery on her esophagus several years ago.

"I knew she was suffering for the last few years, it's a shame," former Councilman Jack Kelly told NewsWorks. "She knew it herself that she wasn't going to get any better, but when it happens it's still a shock."

Mayor Michael Nutter called Krajewski "straightforward and honest, sometimes brutally so, and a real friend who gave me help and guidance."

He said: "She was a person whose word you could really trust."

Council President Darrell Clarke said in a statement that Krajewski "took the time to get know everyone she encountered" at City Hall.

"The unsung, lowly staffer did not exist in Joan's world," Clarke said. He also called her "one of the most effective Council members in recent memory" and said she used "masterful" skill to get results for her district.

Krajewski was "the combination of everyone's favorite aunt and someone you would be honored to go to war with," 4th District Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. wrote on his Facebook page this morning. "Opinionated, hilarious and a fierce defendant of her constituents."

As Krajewski prepared to step down from the City Council in late 2011, she said she was most proud of the Community Life Improvement Program, established to help with quality-of-life issues in her district, the Daily News reported at the time. She had also been known for her work fighting absentee landlords and addressing prison overpopulation.

Of her upcoming retirement, she said: It's time. Oh, absolutely it's time. We need young blood."

Earlier in her council career, Krajewski and Ann Land, another former councilwoman, were dubbed the "Boom Boom Sisters" in 1987 by then-Inquirer columnist Steve Lopez after the writer learned the pair played the slot machines while attending a conference in Las Vegas.

"We went to Vegas on a League of Cities, or some convention or another, and when you are in Vegas it's pretty hard not to play a slot machine," Krajewski told WHYY after Land's 2010 death. "Oh yeah we did, but not to an extent that we left everything else go. So we did enjoy ourselves, yes."

Krajewski also came under fire when she retired for a day after winning reelection in 2008 to collect a $275,000 payment under the city's Deferred Retirement Option Plan, then was sworn in for another term.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.
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