Philadelphia City Commissioner Didn't Vote in Special Election Last Week

by | August 18, 2015

By Mensah M. Dean

Less than 7 percent of Philadelphia's 48,069 registered voters actually bothered to cast ballots in last week's special election to fill the vacant 195th Legislative District state House seat, according to unofficial results the Daily News received yesterday.

City Commissioners Chairman Anthony Clark can relate. The Brewerytown resident who lives in the North Philadelphia district was among those who didn't exercise their right to vote, the People Paper has learned.

That's ironic given that Clark's duties also require him to serve on the Board of Elections, which oversees city elections. (Because Clark is running for re-election this November, he is not acting as a member of the Board of Elections.)

Despite his lofty titles and $139,000 annual salary, Clark has had a history of not voting or showing up for work at his City Hall office. Last month, the paper ran a front-page story with the headline: "Where in the world is City Commissioner Clark? Not in his office."

Yesterday was no exception. He wasn't at work when a Daily News reporter went to talk to him and he did not return a phone message.

Others had plenty to say. Sort of.

"I don't think there is anything I can say at this point that doesn't include an expletive. I'll leave it at that," said fellow City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the lone Republican on the three-member commission.

"What I wonder is why the leadership of the Democratic Party, [U.S. Rep.] Bob Brady and others, have gone to the mat to endorse him and to protect him and to make sure that he continues as city commissioner," said City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, a Democrat who was removed from the May primary ballot for lack of valid signatures and will leave office in January.

"It's a concern to me that the leadership of the Democratic party is more concerned about keeping someone like Anthony Clark in office than they are about getting the people of Philadelphia out to vote," Singer added. Attempts to reach Brady, chairman of the city's Democratic Party, were not successful.

"It's just unconscionable that anyone who sits in that office, whose job it is to promote elections and promote responsible behavior, that that person doesn't even vote. You're supposed to set an example in that role," said David Thornburgh, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, the government watchdog group.

"Even if Commissioner Clark was away or he had family matters, I believe they still had absentee ballots. There's just no excuse. I'm speechless." In case you were wondering, Commissioner Clark, attorney Donna Bullock, a former aide to City Council President Darrell Clarke, won the election.

Staff writer Wendy Ruderman contributed to this report.

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