Helen Gym leaves City Council, expected to run for mayor

Helen Gym
City Councilmember Helen Gym resigned Tuesday.
Metro file

City Council’s progressive leader, Helen Gym, stepped down Tuesday and is expected to enter the 2023 Democratic primary for mayor.

Gym, in announcing her resignation, did not mention the mayor’s race, and, in a phone interview, she said she wants to take time to reflect on her accomplishments since taking office in 2016.

However, Gym, a staunch advocate for public schools prior to her time at City Hall, could launch her mayoral campaign as early as Wednesday evening during a scheduled “special event” in Center City.

Should she enter the race, Gym would join a crowded Democratic field that already includes her former Council colleagues Maria Quinones Sanchez, Derek Green, Allan Domb and Cherelle Parker, as well as grocer Jeff Brown and former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart.

Mayor Jim Kenney is term-limited, and city regulations require lawmakers to resign before running for a new position.

Domb, Quinones Sanchez, Green and Parker stepped down in August and September, and special elections were held earlier this month to fill their seats.

Those newly-elected members — Jimmy Harrity, Quetcy Lozada, Anthony Phillips and Sharon Vaughn — were officially sworn in Monday.

Gym told Metro she remained in Council because she had work to do, such as extending the city’s eviction diversion program and introducing a package of bills aimed at protecting abortion rights.

She said she was particularly proud of the diversion program, which was crafted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and has significantly cut the number of eviction cases filed in court.

“I’ve gone to the White House to talk about this program. It’s a program that’s been copied in 180 cities and counties across 36 states,” Gym said. “I want Philadelphians to know that we can do that over and over again.”

In a video also released Tuesday, Gym touted other aspects of her record, including the passage of a law to guarantee advanced notice of scheduled working hours for fast food and retail employees.

“The answers to our problems have to be found in our city,” Gym told Metro. “And the ability for local governments and local politics to meet this moment, as difficult and overwhelming and impossible as it may seem, is our charge.”

More from our Sister Sites