DARRELL L. CLARKE is the President of City Council and represents the 5th Council District which includes North Central Philadelphia, Strawberry Mansion, Lower Hunting Park, Ludlow, Yorktown, West Poplar, Fairhill, Brewerytown, Francisville, Spring Garden, Fairmount, Logan Square, and parts of Northwood, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, and Center City.
A proud graduate of Philadelphia public schools, Clarke began his service to North Philadelphia as a community activist, who was eventually recruited to serve in Council as a constituent service representative, rising up to become a chief of staff, before being elected to represent the 5th District. In his years in service to Council, Clarke has advanced a progressive legislative agenda that includes initiatives to enhance job creation, increase public safety, increase the availability of affordable housing, and strengthen neighborhood development.
Clarke’s legislative and policy agenda are centered on the principles of equity and fairness. From leveraging vacant property to incentivize private developers to build affordable and mixed-income housing, to increasing City funding for the School District of Philadelphia annually in the wake of devastating state budget cuts, to advancing policies discouraging all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on criminal record and credit history, Clarke believes the power of government should be used as a check on the excesses of the private sector and to level the playing field for people and communities that have historically faced discrimination.
Since being elected in 2012 by Democratic and Republican colleagues to serve as President of City Council, Clarke has modernized and expanded Council’s technical staff to enable members to craft data-driven solutions to best serve constituents in a rapidly growing City. Clarke’s leadership ensured that the City implemented the Actual Value Initiative, or citywide reassessment of taxable properties, only when a package of remediation measures was in place to ensure minimal disruption to residents and business owners. A 2015 Pew Charitable Trusts report found that Council’s tax relief measures successfully protected longtime homeowners in neighborhoods that experienced sharp property value increases from being taxed out of their homes.
Council President Clarke’s other initiatives to protect vulnerable people, ensure the benefits of a strong economy and construction sector are spread equitably, and to position Philadelphia for a fiscally secure and sustainable future also include:
- The Philadelphia Energy Campaign, led by the Philadelphia Energy Authority, to leverage a $1 billion investment in sustainability programs to create 10,000 jobs over 10 years, and support job training and local, inclusive hiring. The Energy Authority was created under legislation proposed by Clarke, and as president he has significantly expanded the Authority’s mission and scope to include Solarize, an affordable residential solar energy program, as well as a partnership with the School District of Philadelphia to reduce energy costs in school facilities.
- As one of the prime sponsors of legislation authorizing creation of the Philadelphia Land Bank, Council President Clarke has led the charge for reform of the City’s public land use policies. He was the prime sponsor of a charter amendment to consolidate and streamline disparate agencies tasked with overseeing land use, under a unified Department of Planning and Development, led by a Cabinet-level official reporting directly to the Mayor. Council President Clarke has been a leader in leveraging vacant, publicly owned land for redevelopment as affordable and workforce housing in both gentrifying and stable middle-class neighborhoods.
- To further his goal of making sure every neighborhood in the city is a community of choice — one in which residents desire to raise families and retire with dignity, and which attracts new residents and economic investment — Clarke has overseen a 150% increase in funding for the Housing Trust Fund since being elected Council President in 2012. Clarke has also overseen a 45% increase in funding for the Department of Parks and Recreation since 2012.
- The School District was in financial crisis in 2012 due to devastating state budget cuts and years of absentee state control. Council President Clarke fought against closures of neighborhood public schools, and led difficult votes to increase taxes in order to keep all public school doors open. Under his leadership, the City has increased local funding for the School District by 62.1%, making it about even with what the state contributes. Clarke also sponsored legislation leading to abolition of the state-controlled School Reform Commission and a return to local control of our schools. Clarke has been a vocal advocate for state law reforms to help reduce the District’s rising expenses due to charter expansion, and has made annual trips to lobby state leaders personally on behalf of public schools in Harrisburg. Clarke also advocated on behalf of Philadelphia teachers and personnel during a years-long contract dispute and helped broker an agreement between the District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Council President Clarke is the proud father of a Philadelphia public schools graduate, now a doctor, and a proud grandfather as well. He grew up in the city’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood and lives in North Philadelphia.