city politics

Inauguration Day in Philly: Kenney Starts 2nd Term, New Council Members Take Seats

A third-party will be represented in Philadelphia City Council for the first time in city history

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Philadelphia's elected leaders officially begin their terms of service on Monday as the city holds the 2020 inauguration.

At an 10 a.m. ceremony inside the newly-renovated The Met in North Philadelphia, Jim Kenney was sworn in for his second tour of duty as mayor of the nation's sixth most-populous city.

Kenney, 62, handily won a second term in the November general election. In a victory speech following the Democratic primary last spring, he vowed to fight for better education for all young people and improve the lives of the impoverished and working-class residents of the poorest big city in the country.

Last week, Kenney formally introduced Danielle Outlaw as Philadelphia's new police commissioner — the most consequential post a big city mayor will fill. The city ended the year with an increase in violent crime — including a spate of shootings that took the lives of several young children — and a series of scandals within the 6,500 officer department.

In addition to Kenney's inauguration, several other posts were sworn in including the sheriff and Philadelphia City Council.

Rochelle Bilal, a veteran cop and civic leader, starts her tenure as the city's sheriff. She is the first woman to be elected to the post, which oversees courts, foreclosures and prisoner transports, in city history.

All 17 City Council seats were up for grabs in the 2019 election and new, young blood will be injected into council starting Monday.

Kendra Brooks is the first third-party candidate to win a seat on council. Brooks is a member of the progressive Working Families Party. She bested two incumbent at-large Republicans to win her seat.

Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas, both Democrats, join Brooks as new at-large council members.

Jamie Gauthier prevented Jannie Blackwell from winning a seventh-term as the leader of the city's 3rd District. Gauthier is a West Philadelphia native and business leader.

In addition to Blackwell, five other incumbent district Council members faced primary challenges. Among those, Maria Quiñones Sánchez won over challenger Angel Cruz and Kenyatta Johnson beat out Lauren Vidas. Other incumbents Mark Squilla, Curtis Jones and Cindy Bass cruised to victories in their Democratic primaries.

Darrell Clarke returns as council president after running unopposed in the city's 5th District.

Brian O'Neill, who represents parts of Northeast Philadelphia, and at-large councilman David Oh are now the only Republicans on Council.

Philadelphia is not the only municipality holding an inauguration on Monday. Neighboring Delaware County will see a historic shift in its council as three Democrats are installed as heads of the county.

In November, Monica Taylor, Elaine Paul Schaefer and Christine Reuther each received 15,000 votes more than Republican candidates Mike Morgan, Kelly Colvin and James Raith.

The blue coup in Delco would have been almost unthinkable just three years ago, leading up to the election for the other two seats on the county council. For decades, the entire council was made up of Republicans. Then in 2017, two Democrats beat Republican incumbents.

Jack Stollsteimer also takes over as the Delaware County district attorney having beat Republican incumbent, Kat Copeland. His victory is another win for progressive billionaire George Soros, who gave $100,000 in support of the Democrat.

Democrats now control governments in Delaware and Chester counties for the first time since the American Civil War.

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