Dennis O'Brien, At-Large

Name: Dennis M. O’Brien
Age: 58 (DOB: June 22, 1952)
Residence: Millbrook
Hometown: Philadelphia
•    Archbishop Ryan High School, 1970
•    LaSalle University, 1983, Bachelors in Business Administration
Occupation: State Legislator
•    Bernadette Benson O’Brien, wife
•    Dennis, Jr. ,son, 13
•    Brendan, son, 11
•    Joseph, son, 9
Career highlights:
•    Champion of Justice Award - Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
•    Community Service Award Winner - Caring Center for the Elderly and Infirm
•    Humanitarian Award Recipient - The Arc of Montgomery County
Political experience:
•    Republican committeeman (40 years)
•    Republican Ward Leader - 57th Ward (13 years)
•    Congressional candidate - 1980
•    State Representative (17 terms)
•    Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1 term)
•    Chairman of Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness
•    Chairman of Health and Human Services
•    Chairman of Consumer Affairs
•    Chairman of Judiciary
•    Chairman of Children and Youth

Why did you get in politics?

“My father started the first civic association in my neighborhood. He taught me that change begins at the most local levels of government. He urged my siblings and myself to get involved in the community. I did and never turned back. As a teenager, I became a committeeman and at 23 years old, I was elected to the State House.”

What would your most urgent legislative priority be in office?

“I want to continue my advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Their education and safety has always been a priority of mine and at present, I feel the city can do more to help. I want to work with the school district to give teachers the skills to recognize that students learn differently and to respond to students individually. This will give students hope and have many other positive affects.

“Secondly, I want the city to work in partnership with out institutions of higher learning to bring jobs to Philadelphia. When these institutions expand, our workforce is put to work, people move to the city, and we become more attractive for innovation and job creation.”

What most needs improvement in your district or the city at-large?

“Public Safety. I've already gotten started on it through my prison reform package of bills that I passed in the state legislature. We reduced the city jail population by sending the most violent offenders to state correctional facilities. In Council, I will continue my figure to ensure we are all safe living and working in our city.”

What do you love about Philadelphia?

“Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods: communities within a community. I love the distinct sense of personalty contained in the neighborhoods. Each has their own identity and customs which make them particular to their section of the city. This diversity, which allows anyone a place to be among those with whom they can identify, is uniquely Philadelphia.”

What council practice or custom would you most like to change?

“I want to eliminate the practice of council prerogative where district members can put an indefinite hold on projects because they may be personally opposed.”

Do you support term limits?

“I support allowing the people of Philadelphia make the decision as to whether a member of council should be allowed to return to office or not.”

What is your position on DROP?

“I am the only candidate in this primary who has taken a consistent stance opposing DROP for elected officials. In 2009, I voted to exempt newly elected officials from participating in DROP and I was happy to see that become law. I do, however, support DROP for police, fire and hardworking city employees. The program does need to be reformed, though, to return it to it's purpose of finding efficiencies in personnel decisions.”

Why should voters entrust you with a Council seat?

“I have been elected 17 times as a State Representative and served as Speaker of the House. This has given me the experience it takes to change Philadelphia. I have a history of fighting for individuals with disabilities, breast cancer patients, workers and families. My record will confirm this sense of advocacy. I want to come home to Philadelphia to reform the city the way I reformed Harrisburg.”

What's the most interesting non-political thing about you? What one thing would you like voters to know?

“The position in life that makes me most proud is my role as dad to Dennis, Jr., Brendan and Joey. All three are playing sports at the local athletic association and keeping me on my toes. They keep me grounded and give me a unique perspective on life. I learn so much from them which informs the way I live my life. With them, I play sports, go kayaking on the Delaware and all the other fun ‘dad things.’”

Written responses from the candidates are posted verbatim. Profiles compiled following telephone interviews are sent to the candidates for verification of their accuracy. The non-partisan Committee of Seventy does not endorse or oppose any candidate and is providing this information as an educational public service. Seventy reserves the right to edit candidate responses for length, clarity, and style.

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