Philadelphia Councilman-at-Large Bill Greenlee announced that he will not seek reelection, paving the way for another new City Council member.
“After giving it much thought, I have decided this will be my final year serving on City Council,” Greenlee said on Feb. 11. “It has been my honor to have served so long and to have worked with all its members, past and present.”
Greenlee, who was elected to Council in 2006 and reelected three times, added, “I greatly appreciate the support I have received from the cross-section of Philadelphians and fervently hope I have served them well.”
Greenlee has been a longtime LGBT ally. He told PGN his LGBTQ legislative legacy will be rewriting the Fair Practices Ordinance, along with administration. Before the changes, it “didn’t really touch on LGBTQ issues” and after, the community was protected.
Greenlee is the second veteran member of Council to announce he’d be relinquishing his at-large seat. On Jan. 18, LGBTQ ally Blondell Reynolds Brown said she’d be giving up her at-large seat when her term ends.
Both openings leave more opportunities for LGBTQ candidates seeking at-large seats. Those candidates include Sherrie Cohen, lesbian daughter of the late Councilman David Cohen; Deja Lynn Alvarez, a trans woman; and openly gay man Adrian Rivera-Reyes.
Despite a large number of allies, no openly LGBTQ person has served on Philadelphia City Council, whose terms expire at the end of the calendar year.
The Council’s website about Greenlee’s retirement states, “Some of the highlights of Councilman Greenlee’s progressive legislation include: earned paid sick leave, wage equity and wage theft regulations; a measure to protect domestic violence victims and updates to the city’s anti-discrimination laws.”
In 2011, he introduced a measure to rewrite the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibited discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and the delivery of city services based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as several other characteristics. The ordinance had been amended but not vastly overhauled, since its inception 50 years earlier.
In about two months after its introduction, Council unanimously approved it and Mayor Michael Nutter signed the bill.
Later that year, Greenlee cosponsored the bill requiring some city contractors to offer domestic-partner benefits for the same-sex partners of their employees. Nutter vetoed it, but Greenlee introduced it again in 2013, and an incarnation of the bill became law in 2015.
Greenlee, of the Fairmount section graduated from Temple University and had worked as a staff member for the late Councilman Cohen.
City Council consists of 17 members: 10 elected by district and seven at-large. In the May 21 primary for at-large seats, the top five candidates from each party will go on to the general election. Then, on Nov. 5, the top seven of those 10 will win the seats. That means at least two seats will go to the minority party, which has been Republicans in Philadelphia for decades.
Terms are four years, and there are no term limits.
The registration deadline to vote in May 21’s primary is April 22. You can register to vote through the Pennsylvania Department of State’s online application at https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/VoterRegistrationApplication.aspx. n