State Sen. Shirley Kitchen, a North Philadelphia Democrat who has represented the Third District for two decades, is expected to retire next year, The Inquirer has learned.
And a lawyer with a last name familiar to Philadelphia voters may run for her seat, with her backing.
Kitchen's announcement has been pushed back by the six-month delay and lingering trouble between Gov. Wolf and the Assembly in finalizing a state budget.
Kitchen, who turns 70 next year, is nearing the end of her fifth four-year term. A longtime ward leader, she previously served a two-year term in the House, in 1987 and 1988.
Kitchen said Tuesday that she was pushing for approval of legislation that would help expedite the expungement of criminal records, an effort to help former inmates find jobs. That is a continuation of work she has done to create and fund programs for so-called returning citizens.
Sharif Street, the 41-year-old son of former Mayor John F. Street, previously worked as an aide to Kitchen in the Senate and is now a lawyer at a Center City firm. Street said he "would certainly consider running" if Kitchen retires.
Kitchen, who served as John Street's head of constituent services when he was president of City Council, had high praise for Sharif Street on Tuesday, saying he provides free legal work for her office.
"He has remained in North Philly even though he could have moved out to somewhere that was more peaceful," she said. "He chose to stay and help the people."
Omar Woodard, 32, an adjunct professor of business at Temple University who was a policy adviser to State Sen. Anthony H. Williams' mayoral campaign this year, said he, too, has "been actively exploring the race for several months now."
Kitchen clearly prefers Street, saying Woodard is not well-known in her district.
Williams said Tuesday that both Street and Woodard would be qualified, but that he planned to support the candidate Kitchen backs.
"I'll be taking my cues from her," he said. "She'll be a hard act to follow and has big shoes to fill."
Street has forged a career in the political world that has not yet translated to victory on Election Day. He lost bids for the House in 2002 and 2010 and for Council in 2007.
Kitchen won a 1996 special election to finish out the last two months of the term of State Sen. Roxanne Jones, who died in office. Kitchen also won a full four-year term in that 1996 election.
The Third District is shaped like a "Y," stretching from Poplar Street in North Philadelphia to East Oak Lane to the east and Andorra to the west.
Kitchen is the leader of the 20th Ward at the heart of the district, which includes Temple University's campus east of Broad Street.