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As Tasco retires, her influence is as strong as ever

Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco will be the guest of honor at a going-away gala next month in celebration of her seven terms on City Council.

Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco.
Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco.Read moreChris Fascenelli / Staff Photographer

Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco will be the guest of honor at a going-away gala next month in celebration of her seven terms on City Council.

But the event is not just a farewell party. It's also a fund-raiser, with $100 tickets, $10,000 sponsorship slots, and a star-studded lineup of cochairs.

The proceeds, Tasco said, will benefit a scholarship in her name, not a political action committee. Yet as hundreds of Philadelphia's political class prepare to say thank you with a party and a parting check, it's clear Tasco's political influence has staying power.

"I don't expect much to change about the role that she has played in the city of Philadelphia," said State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, who will take over Tasco's seat in January. "If anything, I expect it to be strengthened and enhanced, based on her ability to be a full-time advocate and agitator."

The Dec. 8 gala, which will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will include a cocktail hour, dinner, and performances, brings to a close Tasco's 28 years representing North Philadelphia's Ninth District. In a career that spanned four mayors, she solidified herself as among the city's most powerful Democrats, notably as the leader of the 50th Ward, a political bastion known for its high voter turnout.

Many of the gala's organizers have played important roles in Tasco's career, and she in theirs.

It is being planned, in part, by the Urban Affairs Coalition, where Tasco worked in the 1970s and on whose board she now sits. Parker, a former Tasco aide, is a cochair. So are Mayor-elect Jim Kenney and Council President Darrell L. Clarke.

Others involved are strong allies who will need support from the 50th Ward in the future, such as State Rep. Dwight Evans, who is running to unseat embattled U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.

Derek Green, a former Tasco aide who will be sworn in as a member of Council in January, said his former boss has a legacy of mentoring newcomers. He doesn't see that changing.

"Although she won't be in Council on Thursdays, she's not the type of person that's going to be sitting home," he said. "She's going to be just as active as she's always been."

Tasco on Wednesday said she intends to remain involved, including as leader of the 50th Ward. She called those organizing the event her friends and said she will "continue to be connected with them" in the future.

Tasco said she isn't involved in planning the event and couldn't venture a guess at how many are expected to attend or how much money could be raised for Bennett College, the historically black women's school in Greensboro, N.C., that Tasco attended until dropping out because she couldn't afford tuition.

"I have no idea what's going on," she said. "I just know I have to say thank you."