Northeast Times

DiCicco era ends

He was a little man, but he made a big im­pact on the city with four terms in City Coun­cil. Loc­als will re­mem­ber him as a South Philly politi­cian who didn’t come around the river wards of­ten enough.

His up­com­ing role in Phil­adelphia polit­ics has been clear for some time, but after last week’s gen­er­al elec­tion, Demo­crat Mark Squilla will soon of­fi­cially take the reins of the city’s 1st City Coun­cil dis­trict. 

For months — since May’s primary elec­tions, in fact — Squilla has ex­is­ted as the only of­fi­cial can­did­ate in the race to re­place Frank Di­Cicco in the dis­trict that stretches from South Philly’s Ore­gon Av­en­ue to the lower North­east, and in­cludes parts of North­ern Liber­ties, Fishtown, Port Rich­mond and Kens­ing­ton.

On the even­ing of Tues­day, Nov. 8, after Squilla racked up a total of over 14,000 votes in his un­op­posed run, the can­did­ate cel­eb­rated his win at the In­ter­na­tion­al Al­li­ance of The­at­ric­al Stage Em­ploy­ees, Loc­al 8, at 2401 Swan­son Street in South Philly.

Only 28 votes were placed against Squilla, all for write in can­did­ates. 

“It really feels good,” said a smil­ing Squilla as he made the rounds that even­ing, shak­ing hands and hug­ging sup­port­ers. “It’s nice to know that all that hard work paid off.” 

Know­ing the can­did­ate would win was something the Squilla cam­paign was as­sured of for some time — in fact, Josh Co­hen, a Squilla spokes­man said the cam­paign caught flack on­line earli­er this year when a cam­paign email called Squilla’s vic­tory a “fore­gone con­clu­sion” — and in the months en­su­ing, Squilla has been hold­ing fun­draisers for his cam­paign. 

This has caused some to won­der why a politi­cian, whose elec­tion was es­sen­tially a cer­tainty, would need to con­tin­ue to hold fun­drais­ing events. 

“We wanted to hit the ground run­ning,” said Squilla. 

The can­did­ate said that in the past months, he’s used the time to meet com­munity and busi­ness lead­ers throughout the dis­trict. 

The need for ad­ded fund­ing, he said, was to fund cam­paign costs like last week’s vic­tory party and to provide fund­ing to a host of non-profit groups —  the list of which he said would be avail­able when his cam­paign fin­ance re­port is made avail­able. 

Post elec­tion fin­ance re­ports need to be filed with the state by Dec. 8. 

“I wish I could af­ford it all my­self,” said the coun­cil­man elect. “But, I can’t do that.” 

Asked about his plans once he enters of­fice next year, Squilla said he’s ex­cited about a jobs bill he’s cur­rently work­ing on. 

If all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, Squilla said the bill could po­ten­tially cre­ate 100,000 new jobs in Phil­adelphia – 10,000 a year for 10 years – by sup­port­ing pro­grams, like the South­port Mar­ine Ter­min­al pro­ject, a $450 mil­lion pro­ject in­ten­ded to make Phil­adelphia a more en­ti­cing port for busi­ness as well as the plan to dredge the Delaware River. 

He’s also look­ing throughout the dis­trict right now to find eli­gible areas that could see in­vest­ment as busi­ness im­prove­ment dis­tricts. 

“We are look­ing at ways to cre­ate busi­ness im­prove­ment zones that will bring in new busi­nesses,” he said. 

Dur­ing the vic­tory cel­eb­ra­tion, Jeff Horn­stein, who had run against Squilla for the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion in the primar­ies, con­grat­u­lated the coun­cil­man elect on his vic­tory and said he looked for­ward to work­ing with Squilla in the fu­ture.

“I plan to stay act­ive in civic life and Mark’s a good guy,” said the former can­did­ate. 

As the even­ing wore on, Squilla was joined by his wife Brid­get, his son, Mark and daugh­ters, Gab­ri­elle and Bridgid. His oth­er daugh­ter, Dani­elle could not at­tend; she’s cur­rently en­rolled at Penn State Uni­versity. 

Joined by his fam­ily, Squilla said he’s learned a lot from fa­cing Horn­stein and his former op­pon­ents Joe Grace and Vern Ana­sta­s­io, say­ing all of the can­did­ates were fo­cused on one goal: mak­ing the dis­trict a bet­ter place for all of its res­id­ents. 

“I’ve learned a lot,” Squilla said. “There are some good people out there and it’s im­port­ant to listen to them.”

With his arm wrapped around his smil­ing wife, Squilla ended his com­ments to the audi­ence with a re­quest for in­put from all Phil­adelphi­ans. 

He said that in or­der to Make Phil­adelphia a bet­ter place, he would need sup­port and par­ti­cip­a­tion from res­id­ents of his dis­trict. 

Once he takes of­fice as a City Coun­cil­man, Squilla said, the door to that of­fice would al­ways be open to the pub­lic.

“You al­ways have a say in my of­fice,” prom­ised the coun­cil­man elect. “I need your help. Any­thing you can do to im­prove this city, bring it to my of­fice and we will dis­cuss it.” ••

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com  

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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