We Thank You, President Verna

January 25, 2011 Rare Air: The Ross Blog Leave a comment


When Anna Verna first became a city employee in 1951, she may have been the last person who thought that 49 years later she would break the glass ceiling to become the first woman Council President in Philadelphia’s 300-year history.

Verna’s historical role in itself is the thing of which legacies are made, and simply an attribute to the collection of fond memories about her tenure.

She leaves public life with a legacy, having served with dignity, fidelity and compassion. After nine terms in City Council and three as its president, Mayor Nutter called her “one of our city’s great public servants . . . a great leader, a savvy politician, and a person who has played a critical role in making our city a better place in which to live and work.”

Some Council members have talked about Verna’s classiness, fairness, consensus building and integrity. And of course there were her suits. On even the dreariest days, President Verna shone like a beacon, brightening the dimly lit Council Chamber as she presided over the people’s business.

For Anna Verna, the people were always her top priority. If you were lucky enough to live in the 2nd Councilmanic District, you know she put you above all else.

President Verna was a champion for quality of life issues for her constituents and for the citizens at-large. Some of her legislative successes include:

  • Consistently supporting wage and business tax reductions while holding steadfast on the City’s obligation to provide its citizens with appropriate levels of public services.
  • Sponsoring the property tax reform bill that freezes tax assessments and tax rates for low income senior citizens.
  • Fighting for $6 million in funding for an additional 100 police officers and advocating for $30 million for capital improvements of recreation, police and fire facilities to help fight crime.
  • Ensuring additional funding for public education and sponsoring initiatives to investigate high school dropout rates.
  • Working to regulate nuisance bars and stop-n-go’s and instituting a citywide ban on public drinking.

In her district, President Verna made the renovation of neighborhood housing and affordable housing a top priority, earning her the Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging’s statewide “Public Official of the Year.”

President Verna dedicated sixty years of her life working to helping others. Times change, priorities change, and people change, and Anna Verna adapted to the changing elements while remaining steadfast and true to her core values. She may have entered public service doing the Bop, the Stroll and the Cha Cha, but through the line dances of the 90s and 2000s, she never forgot the people who brought her to the dance – her constituents, neighbors, friends and colleagues.

We are very fortunate that President Verna dedicated her life of public service to making Philadelphia the best city it could be. We wish her god speed on the next phase of her journey, with our gratitude for fighting a good fight on our behalf.

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