McMonagle officially announces campaign in 177th district

Sean K. McMonagle became the sixth Democrat to announce candidacy, saying he’s the only one to “know what they’re doing” when replacing Rep. John Taylor.

TOM BECK / TIMES PHOTO

By Tom Beck

Sean K. McMonagle formally announced his campaign inside of Port Richmond’s Powers Park Thursday evening, the most recent of six Democrats gunning for state Rep. John Taylor’s seat in the 177th District. Taylor announced he will not run for re-election.

A few weeks ago, McMonagle resigned from his former position as a legislative assistant to City Councilman Mark Squilla, who was present at the event to show his support for McMonagle.

“This election is going to be difficult,” Squilla said at the event. “There’s a lot of people running for this seat because there was a person who was really in a high stature in this seat before.”

“Experience Matters” will be McMonagle’s campaign slogan.

“In order to fill somebody’s shoes like John Taylor, you need somebody who knows what they’re doing,” said McMonagle to those who attended the event. “I believe I’m the only candidate in this race who actually knows what they’re doing as far as legislation. I’m the only one who’s composed and written and helped get legislation passed and has actually worked in the field.”

McMonagle jumped in the race a bit later than many of the other candidates because he had to resign from his position working for Squilla.

“I was the only [candidate] who was employed with the city, so I had to resign my position,” he explained to the Times, noting he “was holding out as long as I could” for financial reasons.

“It wasn’t a late decision,” the lifelong Port Richmond resident said. “I had probably made my mind up quite a while ago, but you always sit on the edge to see if you can financially do it.”

Tommy Johnson, Democratic leader of the city’s 25th Ward, also attended the event to show his support for McMonagle.

Will jumping into the race late affect McMonagle’s ability to fundraise? He doesn’t think so.

“I should be fine,” he said. “I think I’ll be competitive financially, and I don’t think any of them will outwork me. It’s a long time coming for me. I’ve been involved since I was a teenager.”

McMonagle has been a legislative assistant for the past 19 years. In 1999, McMonagle first got hired by Councilman Frank DiCicco, who held his position as representative of the city’s 1st Councilmanic District from 1996 to 2012. When Squilla took over the district in 2012, he kept McMonagle on the staff. McMonagle held that position until his resignation a few weeks ago.

“Sean … worked for my office and was my right hand [man who] really guided me when I first got into Council and directed me in the right way to go and to do things as far as legislation,” Squilla said at the event. “Being from Port Richmond or Bridesburg or Olde Richmond or anywhere up in this district here — it’s so important when you can have a relationship with your elected official. And Sean cares about the neighborhood, he cares about the community. He cares about family and he cares about the issues.”

Squilla highlighted concerns with the School District of Philadelphia’s finances, the city’s homeless epidemic and opioid epidemic as key issues he feels McMonagle is qualified to help solve.

“I think when push comes to shove, the person who has the experience and the knowledge to step in there and be ready on day one will be me and I would appreciate all your support,” McMonagle said during his brief speech, which lasted only about a minute and five seconds.

“I just wanted to keep it short and sweet,” he jested.

McMonagle is a graduate of North Catholic High School and a married father of two.

Both the Democratic and Republican primaries take place on May 15. The general election will take place on Nov. 6. ••