“Politics is an open-ended opportunity to make life better for others.”
Jannie L. Blackwell, a six-term council member born and reared in Philadelphia, is a seasoned advocate for social change with a 30-year reputation for serving community members and the poor and underprivileged in the City of Philadelphia, making her a leader in our City with her own vision.
Jannie L. Blackwell is a graduate of Cheyney University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and a graduate of St. Joseph’s University where she received a Master of Arts in Education. Councilmember Blackwell began her political career by serving as Special Assistant to the Governor, assigned to the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She resigned with her husband, then State Representative Lucien E. Blackwell, when he ran for and was elected to City Council.
In addition to serving as delegate to the National Convention for the last four presidential elections, she served as Administrative Assistant to two Lucien E. Blackwell campaigns for Mayor, four for City Council and three for the U.S. Congress. She also served in this capacity during his fifteen-year tenure in City Council, before succeeding him.
Since taking office in 1992, Jannie has emerged as a strong contender and powerbroker in the local political arena. Elected among her peers as Majority Leader in 2000, Councilmember Blackwell is a behind-the-scenes consensus builder and problem solver. A stellar politician who understands the making of solid policy, Councilmember Blackwell has introduced significant legislation during her four Council terms.
In addition to her role as Majority Leader from 2000 -2008, Blackwell is also Chair of the Education Committee and the Chair of the Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless. She is Vice Chair of the Finance Committee and member of the Committee of the Whole, Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities, and the Committee on Ethics. Councilmember Blackwell is also a Co-Founder and Commissioner on the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs.
While rooted in the Blackwell tradition of empowering the underserved, Jannie has crafted her own vision for the Third Councilmanic District that focuses on increasing affordable housing and creating economic opportunity for her constituent base whose demographics are continually expanding. She has likewise enhanced her district by increasing commercial development and homeownership opportunities. As a Commissioner on the Philadelphia Housing Authority Board, she is proud of the blight removal and new housing construction across the City. The Lucien E. Blackwell Homes, located in and around 46th Street and Brown Streets in West Philadelphia total over 1,000 new homes available for rental and homeownership!
In 1999, Councilmember Blackwell announced a Ten-Year Economic Development Plan for West and Southwest Philadelphia leading to the formation of a non-profit organization, “West Philadelphia on the Move”. The Plan incorporates her vision for increasing affordable housing and job and business development. Her leadership and hands-on approach with business leaders, public and private institutions, community groups, town watch leaders, block captains, and other elected officials, has continued to allow this economic development plan to come to fruition, culminating in over 3 billion dollars in public and private investment.
Councilmember Blackwell has made a life-long commitment to move her community forward, and will always work to foster an end to homelessness, neighborhood blight and poor public education through using the tools of public policy, legislation and public involvement. Her overall vision is to improve her constituents’ quality of life – regardless of race, class, gender, or socio-economic status. She continues to believe that there is a solution to every problem, and that when we work together, everybody wins.