Pa. Rep. John Taylor readies for retirement

His retirement comes after 33 years of service

Credit: Maria Young

A prominent figure within the River Wards community, State Rep. John Taylor, representing the 177th Legislative District, has been in his role for the past 33 years. Yet, at age 62, just after Labor Day he announced his retirement, effective next year after his term expires.

Why? Well, for starters, the native of the 300 block of Thayer Street in Kensington explained that his role as state representative is made up of about three different parts. The first involves what he’s supposed to do on paper, meaning that he properly represents and confronts the problems and challenges faced by Philadelphians. The second part of his job entails what he does within the neighborhoods, including his outreach and physical presence at a variety of events. Lastly, the final part of his role is the campaigning piece.

Taylor has been participating in this third (and essential) element of his role as state representative almost immediately following his graduation from Temple University School of Law in 1984. Also elected to the position in 1984, and sworn in during January 1985, he has continued campaigning each year since.

“[In 1984] the Republican Party asked me to run for state representative, expecting me to be the latest sacrificial lamb, or person slated to take a beating,” Taylor, who currently resides in the Northwood section of Philadelphia, explained. “Obviously that didn’t happen, and almost 34 years later, here I am.”

While there have been numerous elements of the role which Taylor has thoroughly enjoyed, such as the ability to be able to help people on both a community and individual level, he noted that the pleasure and fulfillment he got out of this role would not have been possible without his hard-working staff, which over the years has gone without much turnover.

However, the “hardcore” campaigning aspect, which he estimates consumes 30 percent of his life, has become grueling, and he determined it was simply time to move on to other things.

“Normally I would have already started campaigning for reelection, but I was not doing so and I wanted to explain [by announcing my retirement],” Taylor said. “This also gives the party the opportunity to figure out who would try to represent us next, and me time to acclimate to the change as well. There’s already about 20 different candidates they’re talking about.”

Taylor added that the community and its constituents, which he has loved serving, deserve a representative who can be in attendance at the many different events, from sports functions to farmers markets. He noted that these community events are what helps make the neighborhoods what they are, and that a representative should be at the majority of them, despite his or her schedule, often resulting in work every night and every weekend.

“I’ll never forget someone once saying to me that even if they hit the lottery, they would still choose to live in Bridesburg,” Taylor said. “The rich history and commitment of the people in the seven neighborhoods that I serve bring them much pride. Community leaders and groups have done a great job and should be commended for what they do and have done.”

Despite planning to hand off the responsibility of these neighborhoods to a new representative, Taylor stressed that he is merely retiring from elected office, but not from work. Furthermore, after his retirement from office is made official when his term ends on Nov. 30, 2018, he plans to become more active as a lawyer, while remaining active in the neighborhoods, and in his policy and advocacy.

“Retiring comes with a complex set of emotions,” Taylor said. “I will miss some parts of [being a state representative], and other parts I won’t miss at all. I think it’s just the right decision at the right time, so I feel pretty good about it.”

Ultimately, Taylor’s successor, whomever that may be, will take office in January 2019.

For more information on Taylor, visit: http://www.reptaylor.com.