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One of the founding tenets of The Philadelphia Citizen is to get people the resources they need to become better, more engaged citizens of their city.

We hope to do that in our Good Citizenship Toolkit, which includes a host of ways to get involved in Philadelphia — whether you want to contact your City Councilmember about the challenges facing your community, get those experiencing homelessness the goods they need, or simply go out to dinner somewhere where you know your money is going toward a greater good.

Find an issue that’s important to you in the list below, and get started on your journey of A-plus citizenship.

Vote and strengthen democracy

Stand up for marginalized communities

Create a cleaner, greener Philadelphia

Help our local youth and schools succeed

Support local businesses


What does City Council do?

A very quick summary

Philadelphia’s 17-member City Council enacts laws and resolutions, holds hearings, and approves the city’s operating budget and members of City boards and commissions.

Seven At-Large councilmembers and 10 location-specific District are elected by citywide popular vote. No political party can have more than five At-Large seats on Council.

Philadelphia City Council has 25 standing committees, including Labor and Civil Service, Ethics, Children and Youth, and Aging.

All committee meetings are open to the public. Find out when they’re happening here.


Who is Nicolas O’Rourke?

The freshman At-Large member of Philadelphia City Council is a member of the progressive Working Families Party — and a minister by trade. He’s giving the progressive response to President Biden’s State of the Union on March 7

Who is Nicolas O’Rourke?

The freshman At-Large member of Philadelphia City Council is a member of the progressive Working Families Party — and a minister by trade. He’s giving the progressive response to President Biden’s State of the Union on March 7

Nicolas “Nic” O’Rourke won his second bid for Philadelphia City Councilmember-At-Large in November 2023 and joined Kendra Brooks as the second Working Families Party member on the legislative body in January 2024. Their joint wins made the Working Families Party the dominant minority party in Democrat-heavy Philadelphia, pushing Republicans from the minority position for the first time since 1952. (There is currently one Republican on Council, Northeast Philly 12-termer Brian O’Neill). This is O’Rourke’s first elected role, and he serves as Minority Whip.


Kendra Brooks (left) and Nicolas O'Rourke. Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council.
Kendra Brooks (left) and Nicolas O’Rourke. Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council.

The Working Families Party (WFP), a coalition of far left progressives, is a small political party — as of last fall, only 14 Philadelphians were registered as WFP members — that has grown in stature nationally and locally over the last several years.

West Philly resident O’Rourke is proudly religious. He has been a youth and covenant pastor at Living Water United Church of Christ in Oxford Circle in Northeast Philadelphia since 2014 and calls himself a “Sacred Activist.” Prior to running for office, O’Rourke was an organizer for interfaith activist group POWER, where he says he worked to dismantle mass incarceration and police brutality on people of color, fully fund schools, improve wages, and fight White Christian Nationalism, Islamophobia and antisemitism in Philadelphia. He was a visible presence during the 2020 demonstrations for racial justice.

Campaigning for and joining Council

A rising star in the WFP countrywide, O’Rourke was mostly vague about specific policies during his campaign. He and his fellow party member Brooks took a page out of the national party’s playbook, often talking about issues that Council has no sway over, including reproductive rights. He equated the local, mostly toothless, Republican party with the national GOP. “I reject the bifurcation of the local Republican Party from the national Republican Party,” O’Rourke told The Citizen’s Larry Platt. “The party of Donald J. Trump doesn’t deserve to be in power.”

In his tenure so far, O’Rourke has introduced a resolution to authorize hearings on Philadelphia’s Guaranteed Income pilot programs, with the objective of expanding them. He said during his campaign that a guaranteed income for Philadelphia’s poorest residents would be the number one gamechanger for the city.

State of the Union response

On Thursday, March 7, 2024, O’Rourke gave the WFP’s annual progressive response to President Biden’s State of the Union address. The WFP has hosted progressive responses to the President’s annual address for several years. Rep. Delia Ramirez gave the address in 2023; Rep. Rashida Tlaib, in 2022; Rep. Jamaal Bowman, in 2021, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, in 2020.


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