Nov. 3 marked the election of Democrat and Veteran City Councilman Jim Kenney to be Philadelphia’s 99th mayor.
After serving on Philadelphia’s City Council for 23 years, Kenney resigned in January 2015 to run for mayor. Kenney won 85 percent of the vote, while 13 percent went to Republican candidate Melissa Murray Bailey. Since Kenney’s victory in the primaries of May 2015, he had been expected to win the election. Philadelphia has not had a Republican mayor in over 63 years.
One of the main points on Kenney’s political agenda is to provide universal pre-kindergarten education to all preschool-aged students in Philadelphia. His goal is to make sure that all kids have the proper resources necessary for a quality initial education. This includes giving pre-K teachers useful resources so they can teach using the latest tools and technology.
“As I have said tonight, I want a lot things for our children: quality schools, pre-K, community policing and job opportunities that can support their future children. But most of all, I want them to grow up in a Philadelphia where we all look past our differences and join together to create a better place for all of us to live,” Kenney said in his victory speech, explaining one of his main initiatives to reinvigorate Philadelphia’s school system.
Kenney also plans to approach the issue of Philadelphia’s high crime rate. He wants the public to form a better relationship with the police. During his campaign, Kenney stated he would end random “stop and frisk” search encounters by police to create a more trusting relationship between the public and public safety officers. He hopes to create alternate methods of effective law enforcement. Kenney received endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police, a police union for sheriffs and officers in Philadelphia.
Kenney also hopes to address the increasing poverty rate among residents in Philadelphia, along with boosting the economy. Kenney said that he would like to reform the prison system for those cannot afford the bail. He also seeks to provide job training to those leaving prison who are about to enter the working world. Lastly, he plans to keep Philadelphia a sanctuary city, so that undocumented immigrants living here feel safe and accepted.
Voter turnout for this election was up five percent compared to the previous mayoral elections in 2011, but still considerably low. The reported turnout figure for this year was about 25.5 percent.
Kenney is set to take office in January 2016. He will be replacing Mayor Michael Nutter.