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May 12, 2023

Philadelphia candidates for mayor in 2023: David Oh

The former city councilmember is the only Republican in his party's primary; his platform calls for stricter law enforcement and job creation

2023 Election Mayoral Race
david oh.jpg Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

David Oh served on City Council from 2012-2023. He is the only Republican in the Philadelphia mayoral race.

The lone Republican in Philadelphia's mayoral race, David Oh spent three terms on City Council fighting for tax breaks for businesses, city agency accountability and stricter law enforcement.

Oh, the first Asian American to serve on City Council, was elected to an at-large seat in 2011 after two unsuccessful runs. Prior to his career in politics, Oh was an assistant district attorney in Philly and a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He resigned from City Council in February to run for mayor.

While in office, Oh led legislation expanding the tax credit for employers hiring veterans and guaranteeing nursing mothers spaces to pump at work. Oh also pushed through laws cracking down on squatters, illegal dumpers and commercial vehicles illegally parked in residential areas. A victim of crime himself, Oh survived a stabbing near his home in 2017.

Oh battled with city agencies, pressuring SEPTA to hire more transit police officers by threatening to withhold $10 million in city funding unless the department's ranks were replenished. He further fought to "restore" control of the Philadelphia Parking Authority to the city, ultimately losing out to legal rulings.

In 2018, Oh called on former Gov. Tom Wolf to pardon Eric Riddick, a Philadelphia man who spent nearly 30 years in prison on dubious murder charges. Riddick eventually was released in 2021.

During Oh's 2015 reelection campaign, the Philadelphia Ethics Board fined him for accepting an illegal campaign donation. The board also later fined three staffers on the Oh campaign for political activity violations.

As mayor, Oh has pledged "visible community policing in the areas that need them the most." He says he would focus on illegal guns, referring cases to the Pennsylvania attorney general if the Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner declines to prosecute. He also says he intends to circumvent Krasner on minor crimes like retail theft through a unit of deputized city lawyers.

Oh wants to upgrade equipment at recreation centers and public libraries, improve street lighting and increase course offerings at the Community College of Philadelphia. He has threatened to withhold funding from SEPTA again until it begins "upgrading its technology and deploying Transit Police throughout its system."

He is against citywide price controls and would focus on job creation as a means to combat inflation. Oh has further promised to give parents a "greater voice" in their children's education by making five out of the nine seats on Philadelphia Board of Education elected positions instead of appointed positions.

Oh was born and raised in Philadelphia. He graduated from Central High School, and later earned degrees from Dickinson College and Rutgers Law School. He currently lives in Kingsessing.

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