Philadelphia voters to decide measure on making Office for People with Disabilities a permanent part of the city charter

The Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a charter amendment in June, referring it to the Nov. 2023 ballot, that would make the Office for People with Disabilities a permanent part of city government by making it a part of the city charter.

Philadelphia currently has a Mayor’s Office on People with Disabilities, which was established by Mayor James Kenney (D) in September 2017 through Executive Order 7-17. The office included the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities. Both were housed under the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Census data from 2016 showed that 16% of individuals living in Philadelphia reported a physical, emotional, or cognitive disability.

The question voters will see on their ballot will be, “Should the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to create an Office for People with Disabilities to coordinate the City’s compliance with requirements to provide access for people with disabilities to City services and programs and to otherwise provide for incorporation of the Office into the City government?

Councilmember Kendra Brooks (WFP) proposed the charter amendment. Brooks said, “Making sure that every Philadelphian can participate in community, in culture, and in the life of our city is not just our moral obligation but our legal obligation. By submitting this charter change to voters, we acknowledge the work that still needs to be done, and we affirm our commitment to making Philadelphia accessible for everyone.”

In May, Philadelphia voters decided on four charter amendments, approving amendments to create the Division of Workforce Solutions, create the Office of the Chief Public Safety Director, and expand the requirements for annual minimum appropriations to the Budget Stabilization Reserve, including increasing the maximum amount of appropriations made from General Fund Revenue from 5% to 17%. Voters rejected a charter amendment that would have allowed employees of the Citizens Police Oversight Commission to be exempt from civil service hiring requirements.

On average, 5 charter amendments are on the ballot each year for Philadelphia voters. From May 2018 through May 2023, 31 charter amendments in Philadelphia were on the ballot and all but one were approved.

In 2023, Ballotpedia is covering local ballot measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the 100 largest cities in the U.S., within state capitals, and throughout California. You can review the coverage scope of the local ballot measures project here. In 2023, the project’s scope includes Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of election-related and policing-related ballot measures outside of the largest cities, such as a policing-related measure in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Additional reading: Local ballot measure elections in 2023