A Shakeup on Council’s Leadership Team?

A fight's a-brewin' over who will be the legislature's next majority leader.

From L to R: Council members Bobby Henon and Curtis Jones, Jr. | Photo courtesy of City Council's Flickr

L to R: Council members Bobby Henon and Curtis Jones, Jr. | Photos courtesy of City Council’s Flickr

Philadelphia’s next crop of City Council members won’t be sworn in for another seven months, but rumors are already swirling that there might be a shakeup on the legislative body’s leadership team.

City Hall insiders say that Councilman Bobby Henon is eyeing the position of majority leader, which is currently held by Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. 

The job often comes with the perk of chairing important committees, particularly the powerful finance committee (though Jones does not currently lead it). It’s also a resume builder for elected officials who want to seek higher office. Past majority leaders have included Councilwomen Marian Tasco and Jannie Blackwell.

When asked about the speculation, both Henon and Jones were tight-lipped.

Henon said, “I’m focused on serving my constituents in the 6th District and the entire city through my committee work in City Council.”

Jones said, “I don’t respond to rumors one way or another. Everybody has a right to be ambitious. We’ll wait until the time comes and see.”

A Council member must win the votes of most of his Democratic colleagues in order to become majority leader. Sources say Jones lost some support by angling for the job of Council president, which is currently held by Darrell Clarke, earlier this year.

Jones, for his part, said that he only discussed the possibility of running for Council president under the condition that Clarke would resign in order to campaign for mayor. When Clarke announced in January that he would not join the mayor’s race, Jones said he abandoned the plan.

“I did talk to members. I did have some commitments,” said Jones. “But it was always under the provision that he leaves to seek the office of mayor. I absolutely have said to him and anyone who would listen to me that he’s made a great president for City Council, and that was never a consideration once he decided to stay president.”

Jones’ standing as majority leader also may be shakier than it was previously because he supported state Sen. Anthony Williams in the Democratic mayoral primary. Henon, on the other hand, backed former City Councilman Jim Kenney, who won last week’s election by a landslide.

“I took a principled stand in my choice for mayor,” said Jones. “That is called leadership. If there is going to be backlash to that, so be it. Because there’s an election every six months and we’re not always going to all be on the same side.”

Currently, no lawmaker is expected to take on Clarke for the role of Council president if he is reelected in the fall as anticipated.