Dennis M. O’Brien is Councilman-At-Large for the City of Philadelphia. He is a lifelong Philadelphian, public servant and advocate for individuals with disabilities, health care policy and public safety issues. He is dedicated and determined to making Philadelphia a better and safer place to live, work and visit.
2012 marked Councilman O’Brien’s start in City Council. While on Council, he has worked on many different initiatives, including passing legislation to remove neighborhood blight, attacking the problem of tax delinquency, investigating state probation and parole practices in the city and advocating for an equitable contract and fair workplace practices for city firefighters. Additionally, he continues work to find a better way for the City to contract for indigent court representation, expand the focused deterrence violent crime reduction strategy and shine light upon the predatory and illegal practice of notario fraud.
Councilman O’Brien currently serves as the Committee on Disabilities and Individuals with Special Needs Chair and has advanced some special efforts. He passed legislation to remove the words “mental retardation” from The Philadelphia Code and replace it with the more appropriate term of “intellectual disability.” This new language recognizes and celebrates the abilities of those with intellectual disabilities recognize the abilities of those individuals. In 2013 he worked with the Phillies to make Citizens Bank Park the nation’s first autism friendly ballpark. And, he looks forward to the 2014 launch of the Philadelphia Autism Project, which will bring city stakeholders together to find better ways to deliver services and improve outcomes for the city’s autism community.
Prior to serving in City Council, he served as a State Representative for more than 30 years. During the 2007-2008 legislative session, he was elected by his peers to serve as Speaker of the House. Serving as the first ever minority party Speaker in Pennsylvania’s history, he passed meaningful government and criminal justice reforms and enacted the state’s first-ever Autism insurance legislation.
Dennis is married to the former Bernadette M. Benson. They live in Northeast Philadelphia with their three children, Dennis Jr., Brendan and Joseph.