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City Council President Anna Verna Calling It Quits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Longtime Philadelphia City Council president Anna Verna announced today she will not return after her current term expires next January.

Verna, 79, made the announcement today that she will not return after her current term expires next January.
"I am the longest serving city employee;  I'm the longest serving councilmember;  I'm the longest serving president of City Council," she said today.  "I really think have done what I wanted to accomplish in life.  I just feel that it's time."

Verna clearly loves being Council president, and says she spent months agonizing over whether to seek what would be a tenth term in office.

"I'll tell you, I have agonized over this, believe me," she told KYW Newsradio earlier today.  "It's a very difficult decision that I had to make."

Verna has represented the Second District, covering parts of South Philadelphia, since 1975, when she succeeded her father, William Cibotti.  She is in her third term as Council president.

"I have always said I would know when the time would be right for me to step down," she told fellow councilmembers and supporters today in Council chambers.  "And the time has come."

One potential factor in her decision to retire: Verna is enrolled in the controversial "DROP" retirement program, and if she sought another term she would likely have faced criticism over taking the pension payment and then returning to office. But she denied that was a factor in her decision not to return:

"Absolutely, unequivocally, no!"

Also opting not to seek re-election this year are Joan Krajewski of the 6th District, Donna Miller of the 8th District, and at-large councilman Jack Kelly.

Democrat Damon Roberts has already announced his candidacy for Verna's 2nd District seat.  Pennsylvania state representative Kenyatta Johnson is said to be considering a run.  He told KYW Newsradio today that he hasn't made any decisions and is "keeping his options open."

For the Council presidency, majority leader Marian Tasco and majority whip Darrell Clarke are likely to try to succeed Verna.  But neither wanted to talk about it on the day Verna announced her retirement.

"I'm flattered people have asked me to do that," Tasco said, "and so it's not appropriate now to talk about that."

"I think it's premature to have that conversation," said Clarke. "I think we need to reflect on the work that the Council president has done. This is her day."

In any case, Verna's successor won't be decided until next January, after the new Council membership is in place.

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Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau chief Mike Dunn.

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