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2001 Fels Institute of Government graduate and Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (Photo from Philadelphia City Council).

2001 Fels Institute of Government graduate and Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson is in the lead to secure Philadelphia City Council President. 

As of Oct. 12, Johnson had secured commitments from the majority of council members, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Sources told the Inquirer that he has obtained nine signatures from the 17-member body of the council. 

A Democrat representing South and Southwest Philadelphia, Johnson has focused on combating gun violence throughout his political career. Just two weeks ago, he led a “Peace-Not-Guns Public Safety Walk” in response to the death of Philly journalist and LGBT activist Josh Kruger, who was shot in South Philly, WHYY reported.

Councilmember Mark Squilla has dropped out of the race in light of Johnson's votes. Although he hasn’t openly supported any of the remaining candidates, he believes that the Council will vote unanimously for Johnson in January, the Inquirer reported. 

Johnson and Democratic Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr. have been the top contenders for the Council President position so far. 

Jones told the Inquirer that the reports of Johnson having secured enough votes are rumors. 

“Even if they commit, people can change their minds,” Jones told the Inquirer. 

Johnson told The Philadelphia Tribune that he will continue “to work every single day to the support of my colleagues.”

For the past year, Johnson has worked to overcome the controversy of his recent trial for federal bribery and fraud charges.

“I wasn’t only exonerated but innocent,” Johnson told WHYY. “And I maintained my innocence from day one.”

Penn Dems held a roundtable event with Philadelphia City Council candidates running for at-large seats on Oct. 25. 

Johnson continues to maintain that the process to obtain votes is still ongoing. 

“Currently, I’m still in the process of advocating for and seeking support from my colleagues, so this is a work still in progress,” Johnson told the Tribune.