The third time was a charm for attorney David Oh, who appears to be the winner in a tight race against former candidate for mayor, Al Taubenberger for a City Council-at-large seat.
He will be the first Asian-American member of Council in the city’s history.
“I think it’s a point of pride for Asian Americans in Philadelphia,” Oh told the Inquirer on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, we’re all Philadelphians, and it’s important that we all come together to improve our city.”
He did not respond to repeated attempts by the Tribune to reach him.
For a while, it appeared that Oh, who seemed to be jinxed in his attempts to win a council seat, could lose yet again.
Votes tallied on Nov. 8 gave him a razor thin lead of 140 votes. Counting of provisional and absentee ballots — about 2,800 ballots — wrapped up Tuesday giving Oh a lead of 171 votes.
That lead remains unofficial until election results are certified.
But, Taubenberger conceded Tuesday evening telling reporters: “It’s back to my day job at the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.”
Taubenberger is the president of the chamber. Like Oh, he has tried for years to capture a public seat. He challenged Mayor Michael Nutter in his first race for mayor.
Oh’s win makes him the second of two Republicans who will take at-large seats in January. The other is state Rep. Dennis O’Brien.
It was Oh’s third run for a council seat. He also ran in 2007 and 2003.
Four years ago he lost in an extremely tight race to Jack Kelly and vote-counting dragged on for two weeks.
This time around he collected some big name endorsements, but the campaign got dirty in August when several stories appeared in the press that questioned Oh’s military record and publicized his arrest in the mid-1990s on gun charges.
The stories gave union boss John Dougherty the material needed to attack Oh with fliers raising questions about Oh’s suitability for office. Dougherty was apparently trying to weaken Oh, because he would not commit to support Councilman Darrell Clarke for Council president.
Oh, who grew up and lives in Cobbs Creek, served on former Mayor Ed Rendell’s transition team and was Gov. Tom Ridge’s point man on a trade mission to South Korea. He worked as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office and served on a variety of civic boards.
He is just one of six new members to take their seats in January in a sweeping restructuring of City Council made possible by a series of retirements.