Former State Rep. Mike Driscoll on Friday took control of Philadelphia City Council’s 6th District from his friend and political ally, former City Councilman Bobby Henon.
Driscoll was sworn in at a City Hall ceremony after winning a special election last month with no challenger on the ballot.
Mayor Jim Kenney told a crowd of Council members, state legislators, judges, and ward leaders he was happy to have “a joyous occasion“ to celebrate with Driscoll “after nothing but heartache.” Kenney had just finished a radio roundtable discussion about violence in the city.
”I‘ve never met a more decent person in my life,“ Kenney said of Driscoll. “He doesn’t have a bad word to say about anyone, and he’s always positive.”
City Council President Darrell Clarke jokingly asked why Driscoll chose to be sworn in a week ahead of Council’s vote on the city budget, which he called ”a tough tax vote.”
”I think I might have stretched this out,” Clarke said as the room erupted in laughter. ”Next week will probably be a doozy.”
Driscoll joins City Council just four days after he also took over Henon’s position as Democratic leader of the 65th Ward.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chair of the city’s Democratic Party, joked that Driscoll had wanted to be a Council member and ward leader for 30 years and achieved both in one month.
Ward leaders, including Henon, unanimously selected Driscoll in late January as the Democratic candidate for the special election.
Driscoll thanked allies in the crowd for years of political support.
”My accomplishment at today’s swearing in is reflected in you, your support, your vote, my ward leaders, your leadership, and your example,” he said. “To get anything done unanimously in our Democratic Party is a feat.”
Dougherty was leader of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, where Henon was political director until he was elected to Council in 2011.
Henon remained on the union’s payroll while in office. The jury found Henon effectively sold his votes on Council to Dougherty for that paycheck. Henon is scheduled to be sentenced on July 27. A sentencing date has not been set for Dougherty, who faces two more federal trials this year.
Driscoll’s oath of office was administered Friday by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, brother of the convicted union leader.
With no opponent and running in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans, Driscoll still scrambled to raise more than $190,000 in three months for the special election.
More than a third of his donations came from five building trades unions, which donated the maximum allowed under the city’s campaign finance law, $12,600, including Local 98, where Dougherty is no longer in charge.
The 6th District runs along the Delaware River, from Allegheny Avenue and Delaware Avenue in the southeast corner to Roosevelt Boulevard and Grant Avenue in its northwest corner.
Driscoll was first elected to the 173rd District for the state House in 2014 and was reelected to a fourth term in 2020. He previously worked for the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union and served in the administration of Gov. Bob Casey Sr.
Driscoll‘s former chief of staff, Pat Gallagher, won the May 17 primary election for the 173rd District. A Republican candidate was removed in April from the primary ballot after a successful legal challenge to her nomination petitions.