City Council newcomers are sworn in

Posted: November 28, 2006

Carol Campbell, Philadelphia's newest councilwoman, sat with a benevolent smile on her face, ringed by a crush of supporters paying their respects. Stacked four deep, they plied her with kisses that left her cheeks stained with lipstick, and whispered words of congratulations into her ear.

"Wait 'til you get a load of her," said U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.) as he introduced the new Fourth District representative and fellow freshman Council members William Greenlee and Daniel Savage at a City Hall swearing-in session yesterday afternoon.

Philadelphia's political class, led by Brady, used the occasion to celebrate the virtues of family connections, political alliances, and party obedience.

By those standards, Campbell - a powerful ward leader, a Brady ally, and the daughter of a former councilman - has it all. And because of this, some Council members have awaited her arrival with anxiety, worried about just what she plans to do.

Yesterday, after arriving at Council chambers 15 minutes late for the ceremony, Campbell extended a preemptive olive branch.

"I come in peace to this Council," she said. "I come with energy, total commitment, tenacity, perseverance, and affection for the people I represent."

Afterward, Campbell said she had no plans to step down as secretary of the Democratic Party. She was also unsure if she would quit her political consulting business, which collects tens of thousands of dollars from candidates for city office.

"The district is priority, but the party must come first," she said, explaining that the party helps minorities succeed.

With Campbell, Greenlee and Savage now officially members of Council, the body is at full strength for the first time in more than a year.

Campbell succeeds mayoral candidate Michael A. Nutter, Savage replaces convicted felon Rick Mariano in the Seventh District, and Greenlee takes the at-large seat of the late David Cohen. Greenlee, who was Cohen's longtime aide, briefly choked up while recalling his former boss.

All three new Council members are party insiders who were nominated during closed meetings by fellow ward leaders. They coasted to easy victories against token Republican opposition in a special election earlier this month.

Critics called the process unrepresentative, since Democratic candidates rarely lose Philadelphia general elections and voters were denied a primary election.

Brady rejected that critique yesterday.

"I follow the law. Those who like it, like it well. Those who don't - you can finish that little saying," Brady said. "That's how I feel about it."

He praised the new Council members, citing their family ties and loyal service to party giants past and present, and called them "my three friends."

Greenlee, Savage and Campbell returned the compliments, and then some. They called Brady a "political genius" and "the greatest chairman that the Philadelphia Democratic Party has ever had."

Nonetheless, each of the new Council members can expect to face serious challengers in May's primary election.

Attorney Matt McClure and Curtis Jones Jr. - who is backed by mayoral candidate and U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) - are preparing runs against Campbell.

In the Seventh, Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Marnie Aument-Loughrey are likely to challenge Savage.

And Greenlee will have to defeat a bevy of opponents in a citywide race to retain his at-large seat.

But they will all be back if party boss Brady has anything to say about it.

"I'm going to do my best to see that you return here in less than a year," he said to Council's newest members.

Contact staff writer Patrick Kerkstra at 215-854-2827 or pkerkstra@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Marcia Gelbart contributed to this article.

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