City Councils in Philadelphia and Other Major Cities: Who Holds Office, How Long They Serve, and How Much It All Costs

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 3, 2011

City Councils in Philadelphia and Other Major Cities: Who Holds Office, How Long They Serve, and How Much It All Costs, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative, February 2, 2011

  • “The 17 current members of Philadelphia City Council have served longer, on average, than their peers in 14 other big cities, and they comprise Philadelphia’s longest-tenured council in at least the past six decades. At 15.5 years, Philadelphia’s average council tenure at the end of 2010 was approached only by Baltimore and Chicago at roughly 13 years each. In Philadelphia, first-term members held only 18 percent of the seats; they held more than a third in most of the other cities studied. Council President Anna Verna has been in office 35 years, longer than any other Philadelphia City Council member since at least 1920, and two other members have served for more than 30 years. Longevity, which can be both a positive and a negative force in government, is one of a number of measurable characteristics of city councils that The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative examined in the nation’s 10 most populous cities plus five other large cities chosen because of their similarity and/or proximity to Philadelphia. They are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose and Washington, in addition to Philadelphia.”
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