Phila. voters reject repealing resign-to-run rule

David Oh. (Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer)
David Oh. (Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 22, 2014

City voters once again rejected a controversial measure that would have allowed politicians to keep their current post while campaigning for another.

Tuesday's ballot question to repeal the long-standing resign-to-run rule was defeated by a close margin. The issue was also defeated in 2007.

The other two questions on the ballot prevailed.

Voters decided that city subcontractors must pay their workers 150 percent of the federal minimum wage, or $10.88 an hour. The minimum wage issue was front and center with airport workers, who were making as little as $7 an hour.

Voters, by a 2-1 ratio, also gave City Council their blessing to have the authority to approve contracts for legal representation of indigent defendants.

The resign-to-run rule has been in the books since the Home Rule Charter was created in 1951 as a good government salve to years of corrupt one-party rule.

City Councilman David Oh, who sponsored legislation to put the question on the ballot, tried to make the argument that the rule actually plays into the city's one-party rule because elected officials rarely risk leaving a safe seat without party approval and backing.

A coalition of labor, faith, and community groups have been lobbying for better pay and benefits for airport employees. The advocates made a big campaign push this spring to spread the word about Ballot Question No. 1.

"Today Philadelphia cast a resounding vote against poverty by raising wages for thousands of airport workers," Daisy Cruz, Mid-Atlantic director of the SEIU 32BJ union, said Tuesday evening. "Today's vote is a huge step forward, but it is not the end. We will continue the fight until every worker receives the raise that Philadelphia voters mandated."

On the legal representation question, voters were asked to decide whether Council should have oversight on certain contracts related to hiring the lawyers who represent indigent clients and defendants.

That ballot question grew out of the administration's attempt to hire a private firm to represent the indigent in cases when the Public Defender's Office has a conflict.

The Defender Association of Philadelphia raised concerns that a private firm would put profit before clients. And Council thought it should have a say in such contracts, even if they are only for one year and don't require Council approval.


cvargas@phillynews.com

215-854-5520 @InqCVargas

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