The race to fill Councilwoman Marian Tasco's 9th District seat is down one candidate.

Archye Leacock, founder of a North Philadelphia nonprofit, Institute for the Development of African American youth, lost a petition challenge and withdrew from the race Monday.

Leacock came up 35 signatures short after challenges. He bowed out gracefully Monday, even crediting the diligence of state Rep. Cherelle Parker – who is running and seems predestined to fill the seat of Tasco – her former mentor.

"We knew we were going to get challenged what we did not know was how aggressive they were going to be," Leacock said. "They went after every signature, they were giving nothing up – but it's good, that's what you should do. If I were in her place, I'd have done the same exact thing."

Leacock partially blamed the snowy February weather for not coming up with more signatures. He submitted 1,459 names but after challenges he didn't have the 750 required for the district race.

Now the Democrats vying for Tasco's seat are Parker and Sabriya Bilal, a former school bus driver, whose petition signatures have also been challenged.

Parker worked as an aide for Tasco and was elected to represent the 200th District in a 2005 special election. She has the powerful 9th district ward leaders behind her.

So sure are political insiders of her victory, Parker was greeted as "councilwoman" by a current city hall staffer at a recent candidates forum.

Leacock said the petition challenge was fair but said he was frustrated by the inability to get his name out.

"With her background and being a state Representative, she had access to all these people, brand new people don't have that access."

He says he wants to form a non-profit to help first-time candidates, though at least for now he said his political ambitions are over.

In the race for City Commissioner, Dennis Lee, former deputy City Commissioner, was ordered off the ballot for failure to show his 2014 city salary and improper notarization of his candidate affidavit.

Lee said he would appeal the decision to the state Commonwealth Court. His former boss, City Commissioner Stephanie Singer is fighting a ballot challenge to signatures on her petitions.

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