Darrell Clarke Is Not Michael Nutter

New City Council president Darrell Clarke is many things the Mayor isn’t. And for anyone interested in Philadelphia’s continued revival, that could be very good news.

THE SAME COULD HAVE BEEN SAID about Council president John Street. Stylistically, though, the low-key Clarke is worlds apart from his old boss. Whether he can be as effective—and Street was perhaps the most accomplished Council president in the city’s recent history—will likely depend on the relationship he forges with Mayor Nutter.

The Mayor fought hard last year to keep Clarke out of the president’s chair. No doubt he feared Street’s influence, or that of John Dougherty, the electricians union boss who backed Clarke’s bid. (Nutter didn’t respond when asked through his press office why he sided against Clarke.) Nutter and Clarke have since made nice, meeting frequently and publicly offering to support some of each other’s initiatives. Philadelphians should hope the détente continues. The city can make rapid progress when a mayor and a strong Council president are on the same page, as Ed Rendell and Street demonstrated. For his part, when asked about Nutter’s opposition to his presidential bid, Clarke says he tries “not to personalize it, but I am human,” and acknowledges that like Street, he has “a long memory.”

Nutter should remember that, and go to whatever lengths are necessary to stay on Clarke’s good side. The new Council president could become the Mayor’s greatest and most unlikely ally—but just as easily become Nutter’s most potent adversary.

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  • Albert

    Interesting piece. My impression is that he is a decent person, smart enough, and he does generally “get it”…but you give him too much credit for redevelopment in North Philly…Councilmanic prerogative (which Clarke deeply believes in) is a huge impediment to development in his district and in any other where Councilpeople exercise is. North Philly is coming back because of what’s happened in Center City and what Temple and other private developers are doing. If Councilpeople like Clarke weren’t in the way, there’d be even more development there and other places.

  • No

    This is beyond revisionist history. Rendell and Street ran the city into the group so hard it still has not gotten up.

  • cb

    Great Story.

  • Rasheema

    Personally, I think that Darrell Clarke is full of it. Yes, he’s very productive and caring until he gets what he want. That is your vote. He makes commitments that he doesn’t follow through with unless it’s to his benefit. I live in the North Philadelphia community and you couldn’t pay me to vote for him. He doesn’t support his own community. He for sure could care less for his city.