Philadelphia City Council welcomed five new members Monday and opted for a slight shift in leadership, retaining Darrell L. Clarke as president while replacing the majority leader.
After taking his oath, Clarke outlined in broad brushstrokes an agenda for the new term: addressing poverty, building community schools, preparing students for the workforce, and overhauling the criminal justice system.
On the last point, Clarke said he would propose "significant" reforms to the city's justice system within the next week, but did not offer specifics.
"We truly believe that no Philadelphian should live in fear of those sworn to protect and serve them, meaning the police," Clarke told the audience at the Academy of Music. "Nor should any Philadelphian who has made a mistake and is remorseful, who wants to turn their life around and become a productive citizen, be denied opportunities to do so."
The new members sworn into the 17-seat chamber are former State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker; former Council aide Derek Green; real estate developer Allan Domb; education activist Helen Gym; and Republican businessman Al Taubenberger. All but Taubenberger are Democrats.
Only time will tell how the new blood changes the dynamic on Council, which has tended in recent years to move in lockstep behind Clarke.
The same goes for the shift in the majority leader's seat, the second-most-powerful position on Council and one that comes with a bump in salary.
The post had been held by Curtis Jones Jr., but Bobby Henon - who has long set his sights on the job - was picked by his colleagues Monday.
The other Council leadership posts remain the same: Blondell Reynolds Brown, majority whip; William Greenlee, deputy majority whip; Brian J. O'Neill, minority leader; and David Oh, minority whip.
Henon's rise could be seen as another win for Electricians union leader John Dougherty - who by any account was already having a good day.
Newly-minted Mayor Kenney is a close ally of Dougherty's and was sworn in by "Johnny Doc's" brother, Judge Kevin Dougherty, who on Tuesday will become a state Supreme Court justice. Henon, too, hails from Dougherty's crew, having been political director of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers before joining Council in 2012.
While the vote for Henon was unanimous, Clarke had at first backed Greenlee, one of his closest allies in the chamber. Clarke called it an "internal process" and declined to comment.
Henon brushed off suggestions of a divide.
"At the end of the day, when the vote is unanimous, you have to move forward," Henon said. "There were other ambitions that were looking for the position, but the great art of compromising is getting along for the greater good. And having a solid and unified City Council, I think, is in the best interest of every member of this body."
Returning to City Hall after the inauguration, Council members played host to parties that spilled out of offices and filled hallways.
On the third floor, there was Latin music, yellow rice and red poinsettia centerpieces outside Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez's office.
One floor up, a four-piece ensemble played jazz, attendees mingled at cocktail tables, and an ice sculpture, adorned with the city crest, glistened outside Clarke's office.
And on the fifth floor, a DJ blasted funk music with a bass felt through the floorboards, guests dined on fried chicken and mac and cheese, and a woman outside Green's office poured tastes of high-end whiskey.
Kevin Poole, a Democratic committeeman in the 10th Ward, called it one of the best days of the year, because "everybody's getting along."
"I think we'll see a positive change in our city," Poole said, chatting on the third floor. "Everything feels positive today."
Council will get down to business and host its first full session Jan. 21.
For Gym, who won her at-large seat with strong backing from the teachers' union, priority No. 1 will be schools. "Making sure that Council feels really confident and vested in a vision around them, and that that just emanates outward toward our neighborhoods," she said. "That's a place to start for me."
For Green, it's addressing poverty, specifically from a "small-business perspective." For Taubenberger, it's jobs and growth - because "you will never, never get out of poverty if people don't have the opportunity for employment. And that's employment at every zip code."
Clarke on Monday also said he would soon propose a comprehensive energy strategy that would create more than 10,000 jobs while helping homeowners, businesses, and the city increase efficiencies and reduce costs.
He said the criminal justice reforms in the offing will "affect your life if you are a member of the city of Philadelphia."
When pressed for specifics, Clarke said simply: "Stay tuned."
Staff writer Julia Terruso contributed to this article.