A fresh start: Democratic Councilman Bobby Henon (above), of Torresdale, was chosen as majority leader. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO
City Councilman Al Taubenberger, of Fox Chase, and elections commissioner Lisa Deeley, of Rhawnhurst, were the local stars at Monday’s inauguration at the Academy of Music.
Meanwhile, Democratic Councilman Bobby Henon, of Torresdale, was chosen as majority leader.
And Mayor Jim Kenney was sworn in by Pine Valley’s Kevin Dougherty, who on Tuesday became a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“Today is a great victory for Northeast Philadelphia,” Deeley said afterward.
Deeley will serve with fellow Democrat Anthony Clark and Republican Al Schmidt. The commissioners will meet for the first time on Wednesday, and Deeley is almost certain to replace Clark as chairwoman.
Before running for office, Deeley was an aide to Henon, who leaped out of his seat to give her a big hug after Common Pleas Court President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper swore in the commissioners.
Deeley also once worked for City Controller Alan Butkovitz and for Butkovitz when he was a state representative. Her goals are to oversee fair, well-run elections.
“I am humbled. I’m overwhelmed. I want to thank all my supporters,” she said. “I am eager to get to work. I want to bring harmony back to that office.”
Barbara Deeley, a former Philadelphia sheriff and the commissioner’s mom, led the cheering during the swearing-in.
“Lisa, you have some pretty excited fans here,” quipped Council President Darrell Clarke, the day’s emcee.
Taubenberger will serve as one of two Republican at-large Council members. He narrowly defeated incumbent Denny O’Brien for the final at-large seat.
For Taubenberger, it was his first victory after losing campaigns for Congress (twice), mayor, Council and state representative. His wife, Joanne, held a Bible as he took the oath from Woods-Skipper.
“It means a lot. It took me a long time to get here. I’m humbled, honored and ready to serve,” he said.
Taubenberger resigned as president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to run for Council. His first official session will be Jan. 21.
The new councilman’s offices are in City Hall rooms 582 and 586, where O’Brien’s staff worked.
Leading up to inauguration day, he and the other new Council members took orientation classes led by former city housing director Tom Massaro.
Taubenberger’s goals are to help the city retain and increase jobs and to strengthen all neighborhoods.
“We represent the entire city. Council at-large has advantages in that regard,” he said. “I look forward to serving.”
Henon replaces Curtis Jones as majority leader. Jones had little support from his Democratic colleagues this time. Jannie Blackwell expressed some interest in the job, but also had little support. Clarke tried to round up votes for his longtime ally, Bill Greenlee, but Henon had enough commitments to secure the job by Thanksgiving.
Kenney succeeds Michael Nutter, who was in attendance. Also on hand were the other living ex-mayors: Bill Green, Wilson Goode, Ed Rendell and John Street.
Gov. Tom Wolf was also on stage, seated next to Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.
Clarke told Wolf, who is battling Republicans on budget issues, that Philadelphia loves him before adding, “I don’t know about any other place.”
In his remarks, Clarke said he wants Council to address issues such as poverty, unemployment, vacant lots and abandoned, blighted buildings. He wants schools to become the focal point of neighborhood services, and believes Kenney will be a strong mayor on education issues.
Clarke also promised criminal justice reforms.
“No Philadelphian should live in fear of those sworn to protect and serve them. Nor should any Philadelphian who has made a mistake, is remorseful, and wants to turn their life around to become a productive citizen be denied opportunities to do so,” he said.
Kenney, who served 23 years as an at-large councilman, is hopeful of a productive working relationship with Council.
“We will be partners in this endeavor,” he said.
The new mayor credited his parents and the Jesuits who taught him at St. Joseph’s Prep for instilling in him the importance of service to others. His top issues include expanding pre-kindergarten, strengthening commercial corridors, lowering the city’s 25-percent poverty rate, increasing community policing and promoting schools as neighborhood hubs.
Kenney declared that, “Black lives do matter,” before adding that most cops are decent, hard-working public servants who risk their lives every day.
The mayor wants to work with businesses, nonprofits and universities so that they can “row in the same direction” as the city.
Later in the day, Kenney signed several executive orders, including one that states that city authorities will not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for illegal immigrants who are arrested, except for those who commit violent felonies. ••
Ready to serve: Mayor Jim Kenney was sworn in at Monday’s inauguration. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO
City Councilman Al Taubenberger was sworn in at Monday’s inauguration at the Academy of Music. Taubenberger, of Fox Chase, will serve as one of two Republican at-large Council members. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO