Justin DiBerardinis, a former staffer to Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and the son of Philadelphia Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis, will likely announce a bid for an at-large seat on City Council before year’s end.
“I'm seriously considering a run for Council at-large,” he said. “I'm working hard to make it a reality. I have been raising funds and having conversations with Philadelphians for over a year.”
For now, Diberardinis, who currently works as director of programs at Philadelphia’s historic Bartram’s Garden, is in the same category as former City Controller staffer Isaiah Thomas: a candidate in all but name. Much like Thomas, DiBerardinis has raised money and hosted at least 20 events over the past year, usually referring to himself as a “prospective” candidate for City Council.
“I believe we need to spend the next 50 years building the most economically equitable, environmentally sustainable and just city in America,” he said. “Those conversations have been about the future of the city – moving past the decades of decline, and talking about how we will define and set the terms for prosperity that's coming.”
A Germantown resident, during his time in Councilwoman Sánchez’s office, Diberardinis was involved in efforts like capturing more business tax linked to companies doing business in the city but with headquartered outside of Philadelphia. In more recent years, he has focused on projects at Bartram’s aimed at better connecting the centuries-old landmark with the surrounding community in Southwest Philadelphia.
He is also involved with the leftist group Reclaim Philadelphia, which has scored a string of local political victories over the past two years.
Diberardinis’ family is well known in PA politics: His father, Michael DiBerardinis, served as a former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, a top deputy to former Mayor Michael Nutter and ran the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation for years. He was appointed managing director, reporting directly to the mayor, shortly after Jim Kenney moved to the second floor of City Hall in 2016.
Amid public accusations of racial and personal bias, AFSCME District Council 47, the union that represents primarily white-collar city employees and supervisors, declined on Thursday night to endorse its current vice president, Ethelind Baylor, who has touted her union bona fides in her campaign for an at-large City Council seat.
“The meeting was a circus,” said Bob Coyle, president of the Local 2187, the largest voting delegate bloc among the eight labor groups represented under District Council 47. “There was a lot of animated discussion surrounding Ethelind, but in the end the union made the right decision to not endorse her.”
2019 215 People’s Alliance slate
The membership of 215 People’s Alliance is supporting a slate of movement candidates for this May's primary election. We're backing candidates who are committed to working-class people and building a more just Philadelphia. Here's your chance to get involved and make sure our representatives are accountable to our communities.
Reclaim Philadelphia 2019 Council endorsements
Reclaim Philadelphia April 2 2019: