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Oh wins City Council seat in nail-biter

After more than eight years of trying and two of the most closely contested elections in Philadelphia history, Republican David Oh on Tuesday won a seat on City Council.

by By Miriam Hill, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Published 
Nov. 15, 2011

After more than eight years of trying and two of the most closely contested elections in Philadelphia history, Republican David Oh on Tuesday won a seat on City Council.

When he takes the job in January, Oh will become the first Asian-American to serve on Council.

"I think it's a point of pride for Asian-Americans in Philadelphia," Oh said. "At the end of the day, we're all Philadelphians, and it's important that we all come together to improve our city."

Oh declared victory for an at-large Republican spot on Philadelphia's 17-member legislative body over Al Taubenberger, who bounced back from a weak showing in the May primary to lose to Oh by just 171 votes.

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"The bottom line is that it's back to my day job at the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce," said Taubenberger, president of that organization. "It's back to building jobs for the city, which I'm proud to do."

After the Nov. 8 election, Oh emerged with a lead of about 140 votes, close enough that he and Taubenberger agreed that about 2,000 absentee ballots should be counted.

That count, along with a sampling of about 750 provisional ballots - used for voters whose names do not appear in log books - was completed Tuesday. It widened Oh's unofficial lead to 171.

This was the second nail-biter for Oh, who four years ago lost the at-large Republican race to Jack Kelly in a count that lasted about two weeks.

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Oh said he would spend Wednesday at West Philadelphia's Presbyterian Korean church, which was founded by his father, a minister.

"I'm going to take a day to reflect and think and kind of pray about the future," he said.

After his 2007 near-win and lots of campaigning since then, Oh won more votes than any other GOP candidate in the May primary.

But then a series of news stories questioned whether he had exaggerated his military record, and examined an early 1990s gun charge against him, sowing doubt among voters.

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Electricians' union leader John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty used those stories to target Oh with campaign fliers labeling him as a "reckless vigilante," even though the gun charge against him was dismissed. Dougherty was supporting Councilman Darrell L. Clarke as Council president, and Oh would not commit his vote for that post.

In the meantime, Clarke has since locked up the votes for the president's job.

State Rep. Dennis O'Brien won the other at-large Republican Council seat. Oh and O'Brien will be among six newly seated members of Council in January.

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Published 
Nov. 15, 2011
BM
By Miriam Hill, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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