Q&A: Marian Tasco Explains Why She’s Quitting Council
A day after Council President Darrell Clarke announced that he won’t be running for mayor, veteran Councilwoman Marian Tasco came out with the huge news that she won’t be seeking reelection this May. Tasco is endorsing Democratic State Rep. Cherelle Parker, who was formerly her top aide in Council, to replace her.
We talked to Tasco Tuesday afternoon about her long career, why she’s endorsing Parker, and whether her announcement had a little something to do with Clarke’s.
Citified: Why did you decide to not seek reelection?
Tasco: I think it’s time for me, personally, to retire. And it’s a good time to turn the reins over to someone who’s really capable of following up on the agenda that was set in the 9th Council District over the last 30 years.
Citified: That, in your opinion, is State Rep. Cherelle Parker. Why are you endorsing her for the 9th Council District seat?
Tasco: First of all, I’ve known Cherelle since she was about 16. I met her when she was in high school and she came into Council to present an oration she had won.
She worked for me for 10 years. She’s extremely smart. She’s a detailed person, very organized, and she knows the district and she knows the issues.
Citified: Many people believe that you’re leaving City Council because Council President Darrell Clarke announced Monday that he won’t be running for mayor. If he’d chosen to run instead, the thinking goes, you would have stayed on Council and tried to become Council President.
Tasco: It’s coincidental. My advice was for him was to stay as Council President. I did not encourage him to run for mayor. I was approached by other individuals about the scenario of me moving onto Council President, and I told them emphatically that I had no interest in that whatsoever.
Citified: But just a few years ago, you ran for Council President. What changed?
Tasco: It just didn’t fit me at this point. I have some health issues, and you have to be here 24/7. I did not have any interest in doing that.
Citified: If Parker runs for Council and wins, she’d have to leave her position as leader of the Philadelphia delegation in the state House. This comes at a time when there are few experienced Philly lawmakers in Harrisburg in leadership positions. What would her departure mean for the city?
Tasco: I think any member of the House who leaves, leaves a void. Each of them brings something to the table. But there are a lot of capable people who represent Philadelphia who can move into that position and do a good job.
Citified: What are you most proud of accomplishing in City Council over the years?
Tasco: I had my greatest success and disappointment with the passage of a bill to prevent predatory lending in Philadelphia. We had a 16-o vote, and it was considered one of the toughest bills of its kind in America at the time. The business community was not for it, and they fought it tooth and nail. But it was preempted in Harrisburg. They said we didn’t have the right to pass local legislation.
It’s been a long career. I introduced legislation to clear neighborhoods of abandoned cars. I introduced legislation to protect children from lead poisoning. I stood up for quality-of-life issues and really have paid attention to zoning matters in the city so that we could not change the character of the neighborhoods.
I was very active with the National League of Cities. I’ve been an advocate for the homeless and I’ve been an advocate for Women Against Abuse.