Maria Quiñones-Sánchez has become the first member of City Council to call on Councilman Bobby Henon to step down in light of the federal corruption case against him and other officials at the electricians union.
Sánchez’s position on Henon was first revealed in a one-word answer to a Q&A with Philadelphia Magazine. Responding to a prompt — “One City Council member who really needs to go is …” — Sánchez said, “Henon.”
On Thursday, Sánchez confirmed that she believes Henon should step down but said she respects that it’s up to voters to decide his future. Henon won the Democratic primary in May without opposition, all but guaranteeing him a third four-year term in his heavily Democratic district.
“I think everybody is entitled to due process, but it makes certain conversations more complicated here,” Sánchez said.
Sánchez’s comments come as Council Democrats weigh whether to keep Henon on as majority leader after the November election. She said Thursday that he should be replaced in that post.
“Ultimately the people of the district vote him in. It doesn’t mean that the Council people should vote him into leadership,” she said. “It’s hard enough to win the confidence of the voters in the community with what we’re trying to do. When you, in a leadership position, become an issue, then it disrupts the flow of the work that we’re doing.”
Henon on Thursday said he planned to seek reelection as majority leader.
“We have a process and after the general election we’ll sit down with Council members and see where the leadership goes,” he said.
Henon declined to respond to Sánchez, saying, “I have no reaction to Maria’s comments."
Henon, who previously served as the political director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 and continued to receive a salary from the union after taking office, was charged in January along with union boss John Dougherty and six others in a 116-count indictment. Authorities allege Henon used his office to settle petty feuds, threaten rivals, and delay planned legislation at Dougherty’s behest.
He and the others charged have pleaded not guilty.