David Henry Oh (born March 8, 1960) is an American attorney and politician who served as a Republican member of the Philadelphia City Council from 2012 to 2023. He was the first Asian American elected to the city council.

David Oh
Member of the Philadelphia City Council
from the at-large district
In office
January 2, 2012 – February 13, 2023
Preceded byJack Kelly
Succeeded byNicolas O'Rourke
Personal details
David Henry Oh

(1960-03-08) March 8, 1960 (age 64)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationDickinson College (BA)
Rutgers University–Camden (JD)
WebsiteCampaign website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1988–1992
RankSecond Lieutenant
UnitArmy National Guard

Oh was the Republican nominee in the 2023 Philadelphia mayoral election.

Early life and education edit

Oh was born in Philadelphia on March 8, 1960.[1] He grew up in Cobbs Creek.[2] His father, Ki Hang Oh, was a pastor.[3]

Oh graduated from Dickinson College and Rutgers Law School.[3] He became a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association in 1985.[4]

Career edit

After graduating from law school, Oh worked for three years as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia. He resigned to join the U.S. Army in 1988 and served until 1992 as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army National Guard. He returned to Philadelphia and opened a solo law firm.[3] In 2008, he merged his firm with Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy, P.C.[5]

Prior to running for office, Oh worked for Mayor Ed Rendell's transition team as well as on Governor Tom Ridge's trade mission to South Korea.[6]

Philadelphia City Council edit

Oh at a Philadelphia City Council Stated Meeting in 2016

In 2003 and 2007, Oh ran unsuccessful campaigns to win one of the two minority party at-large seats for the Philadelphia City Council. In both elections, he was defeated by Jack Kelly and Frank Rizzo Jr.[7]

In 2011, Kelly did not run for reelection, and Rizzo was defeated in the Republican primary. In the general election, state representative Denny O'Brien received the most votes for Republican candidates to take one of the at-large seats, and Oh narrowly defeated former mayoral candidate Al Taubenberger for the final seat.[8][9] Oh was the first Asian American to be elected to the city council.[6] After his election, he was selected as minority whip.

Oh was reelected to the council in 2015.[10] During the primary campaign for his reelection, he took an illegal $20,000 campaign donation while advising the donor how to avoid campaign finance laws.[11] He returned the money and was fined $2,000 for the violation.[12] In addition, Oh had three of his city employees fined for working on his reelection campaign while on city time. After an investigation by the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, the employees were fined a combined $3,300. Although council employees are prohibited from political fundraising, many violations involved working on fundraising events for Oh.[13][14]

In 2015, Oh helped raise money for a statue commemorating William "Wild Bill" Guarnere, a World War II veteran.[15]

Oh and councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez

In 2016, Oh organized the first annual First Responder Appreciation Day, which honors police, firefighters, and paramedic units.[16] He also traveled to South Korea to discuss investment opportunities in Philadelphia with representatives of the South Korean government and business sectors.[17] He had previously hosted South Korean officials in 2012 to "promote Philadelphia as a globally competitive city."[18]

In 2017, Oh introduced a resolution to honor Philadelphia native Kevin Hart by designating July 6, 2017, as "Kevin Hart Day" in Philadelphia.[19] Hundreds of people, including Hart, attended the celebration, which included a mural dedication at Max's Steaks in North Philadelphia.[20]

In 2023, Oh resigned from the city council to run for Mayor of Philadelphia.[21]

Military service controversy edit

During the 2011 campaign, the Philadelphia Daily News reported that Oh had falsely claimed to have served as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army Special Forces during his three campaigns for city council. Oh responded that he did wear a green beret in the Special Forces Group of the Maryland National Guard but did not complete full Special Forces training.[2] After facing criticism from veterans, he apologized for overstating his military credentials.[22][23]

Mayoral campaign edit

Oh's 2023 Mayoral campaign logo

On February 13, 2023, Oh resigned his seat in the City Council to be the sole Republican candidate for the 2023 Philadelphia mayoral election, winning the Philadelphia Republican Party endorsement at his announcement and winning the nomination unopposed on May 16.[24] During his campaign announcement Oh stated that he had exhausted all possible avenues of reform on the City Council and that he will "take all the things I could not do on council and do that for the city as mayor."[25] Oh called himself the "first credible [Republican] candidate in 20 years" and touted his experience winning elections to the city council in his hope to snap a 70-year Republican losing streak for mayor, and become the city's first Asian American mayor.[26]

Oh's platform is built off a law and order message, stating that political interference and movements to defund the police have made Philadelphia unsafe, citing his own stabbing in 2017.[27] However, Oh is a supporter of minimal force policing and is opposed to stop and frisk policies.[28] Oh stated that his main priorities if elected mayor where to "make Philadelphia safe, create good jobs and provide quality schools in every neighborhood."[27] Oh has branded himself as a non-partisan reformer, citing his frequent clashes with the city's Republican party and leadership, and also his desire to improve the standard of living and function of the city government.[28]

Oh faced off against Democratic candidate Cherelle Parker, with Oh's campaign focusing mostly on Parker's refusal to engage with him. Parker did not campaign for almost a month after winning the crowded Democratic primary, citing complications to an earlier root canal treatment.[26] After recovering, Parker has refused to debate Oh, claiming that the 7 to 1 voter registration advantage the Democrats had made any effort to interact with Oh a waste of campaign resources. Jennifer Stefano of The Philadelphia Inquirer called Parker's move to cut out Oh "Trumpesque" and "a danger to our democracy."[29][30] In the five elections since 2003, where the Republicans never got more than 21.7% of the vote, there had always been a debate between the Republican and Democratic candidate.[31]

Oh and Parker saw the stage for the first time at a joint interview at the Please Touch Museum where the pair took questions from a gallery of children from various elementary schools in Philadelphia.[32] Shortly afterwards Parker backtracked and agreed to face off against Oh at a single debate on October 26 on KYW's Philadelphia’s Morning News.[33] As of September 27, Oh has raised $467,000 compared to the $875,000 Parker raised after the primaries.[34] Oh has also reinforced his position as a voice for Philadelphia's ethnic minorities.[35]

Oh's mayoral campaign has been haunted by his lingering Green Beret controversy, with Oh stating during an interview during the race that "I did serve in the Special Forces. I did serve in the Green Berets, the issue is that I was not Special Forces-qualified at the time."[35] The Guardians of the Green Beret, a veterans organization for former Green Berets, took offense to Oh's statement and resurrected the issue in Philadelphia media.[36] Oh argued that prior to a change in Army uniforms in 1993, anyone who wore a green colored Beret was in the special forces, so when he wore one in 2011 he believed himself to be in the Green Berets and apologized for the confusion.[37]

The Associated Press called the election in favor of Parker as soon as the polls closed, and Oh conceded the race shortly before 11pm. With over 90% of the votes counted before midnight, Oh had 25.6% to Parker's 74.4%. Although this was the best Republican showing since the 2003 Philadelphia mayoral election, Oh's performance fell well below expectations he set out at the start of his campaign.[38][39][40]

Asian American Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia edit

In February 2024, Oh was named the new president and CEO of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.

Personal life edit

Oh lives in Southwest Philadelphia with his wife, Heesun, and their four children.[3]

In the 1990s, Oh was arrested on gun charges and was found not guilty in a non-jury trial in 1995.[41]

On May 31, 2017, Oh was stabbed in an attempted robbery outside his home while unloading groceries from his car. He underwent emergency surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.[42][43] A 24-year-old African American man was identified by Oh in a photo lineup and charged with attempted murder.[44] After 10 months in jail, the man was found not guilty due to a lack of evidence to corroborate Oh's testimony.[45]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "David Oh, At-Large". Philadelphia Elections Information. Committee of Seventy. Archived from the original on February 24, 2011. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Mayes, Eric (September 6, 2011). "Council Candidate Oh: Party Out To Get Him". The Philadelphia Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "Councilman David Oh". Philadelphia City Council. City of Philadelphia. December 15, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  4. ^ https://www.avvo.com/attorneys/19143-pa-david-oh-626078.html
  5. ^ Needles, Zack (September 17, 2008). "Zarwin Baum Merges With Former City Council Candidate's Firm". The Legal Intelligencer.
  6. ^ a b Mayes, Eric (November 17, 2011). "Republican David Oh finally takes his seat". The Philadelphia Tribune.
  7. ^ "Oh, David H." Our Campaigns. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  8. ^ Dunn, Mike (November 8, 2011). "Some City Council Races Wrap Quickly; Not So, At-Large GOP Seat". CBS 3 Philly.
  9. ^ Madden, David (November 15, 2011). "Taubenberger Concedes to David Oh in GOP At-Large City Council Race". CBS 3 Philly.
  10. ^ McCrone, Brian X. (November 24, 2015). "Taubenberger, Oh officially win City Council seats". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  11. ^ Nadolny, Tricia L. (September 1, 2015). "Councilman David Oh's credibility and ethics again under fire". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  12. ^ Otterbein, Holly (August 26, 2015). "David Oh Fights for His Political Life". Philadelphia.
  13. ^ Davies, Dave (October 25, 2016). "Councilman Oh staff fined by Philly ethics board". WHYY.
  14. ^ Loeb, Pat (October 26, 2016). "Philadelphia Councilman's Staff Face Fines For Ethics Violations". CBS 3 Philly.
  15. ^ Smith, Sarah (February 6, 2015). "200 attend fund-raiser for 'Wild Bill' statue". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  16. ^ Gregg, Cherri (August 17, 2016). "First Responder Appreciation Day Celebrates Everyday Heroes". CBS Philly.
  17. ^ Lynn, Jennifer (September 22, 2016). "Philadelphia Councilman David Oh's pitches city's appeal during South Korea trip". WHYY.
  18. ^ Kostic, Vesko (June 12, 2012). "Mayor Young-gil Song, of the Global City of Incheon in South Korea, Visits Philadelphia and Councilman David Oh". Global Philadelphia Association.
  19. ^ Sasko, Claire (July 6, 2017). "Philly's Celebrating Kevin Hart Day Today". Philadelphia.
  20. ^ Gregg, Cherri (July 6, 2017). "Hundreds Turn Out For Kevin Hart Day In Philadelphia". CBS Philly.
  21. ^ "Former city council member David Oh announces candidacy for Philadelphia mayor". FOX 29 Philadelphia. February 13, 2023. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
  22. ^ Brennan, Chris (August 23, 2011). "Clout: Oh offers tepid apology for Green Beret claim". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
  23. ^ Warner, Bob (August 25, 2011). "Green Beret claim threatens David Oh campaign". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
  24. ^ Mitman, Hayden. "David Oh Wins Republican Primary in 2023 Philadelphia Mayoral Race". WCAU. NBC. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  25. ^ Leonard, Nicole. "David Oh announces run for Philly mayor as first Republican candidate to enter the race". WHYY-FM. NPR. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  26. ^ a b Snyder, Dan. "David Oh believes he's the GOP's best candidate in decades". CBS. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  27. ^ a b "Who is David Oh?". thephiladelphiacitizen.org. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  28. ^ a b Tomczuk, Jack. "David Oh: 'I'm a reformer' who doesn't care about political consequences". Metro. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  29. ^ Stefano, Jennifer. "Why Cherelle Parker should debate David Oh". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  30. ^ Hawkins, Niki. "Philadelphia Mayor's Race: To debate or not to debate is the question for David Oh, Cherelle Parker". WPVI-TV. ABC. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  31. ^ Roth, Fallon. "Cherelle Parker is declining to debate David Oh. That's not the norm". billypenn.com. WHYY-FM. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  32. ^ Snyder, Dan. "Philadelphians mayor candidates Cherelle Parker, David Oh take questions from kids at Please Touch Museum". CBS. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  33. ^ Chang, David. "Cherelle Parker and David Oh to face off in Philly mayoral debate". WCAU. NBC. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  34. ^ Walsh, Sean Collins; Shukla, Aseem. "How much money have mayoral candidates Cherelle Parker and David Oh raised?". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  35. ^ a b Walsh, Sean Collins; Orso, Anna. "David Oh isn't a typical Republican. He likes it that way". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  36. ^ Walsh, Sean Collins. "Philly mayoral candidate David Oh once apologized for saying he was a Green Beret. But he now repeats the claims". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  37. ^ Mayk, Lauren; Chang, David. "David Oh discusses city looting, stop and frisk and Green Beret controversy". WCAU. NBC. Retrieved October 22, 2023.
  38. ^ Goggin, Caroline; McCormick, Annie; Hendrickson, Beccah; Scott, Katherine. "Democrat Cherelle Parker to become Philadelphia's 100th mayor". WPVI-TV. ABC. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  39. ^ "Republican David Oh talks after projected loss in mayoral race". CBS. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  40. ^ SCHULTZ, BROOKE. "Voters elect Democrat Cherelle Parker as Philadelphia's 100th mayor — and the 1st woman". Associated Press. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  41. ^ Philly Clout Team (September 2, 2011). "Oh Shoot: Truth once again in question in Council candidate's gun charges". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  42. ^ Moran, Robert; Palmer, Chris; Terruso, Julia (June 1, 2017). "Councilman David Oh stabbed during street robbery near his Southwest Philly home". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  43. ^ "Philadelphia Councilman David Oh describes moment he was stabbed". 6ABC Action News (WPVI-TV). June 1, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  44. ^ Hartman, Trish (June 4, 2017). "Suspect charged in stabbing of Philadelphia Councilman David Oh". 6ABC Action News (WPVI-TV). Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  45. ^ Dean, Mensah M. (March 29, 2018). "Jury says 'not guilty' in stabbing of Philly Councilman David Oh". The Philadelphia Inquirer.

External links edit