James Kenney: 'Let's get to work'
With music of the indie pop band, Fun, in the background and signs that read “Jim Kenney: He gets it,” a crowd of supporters gathered at City Hall to hear the former councilman’s mayoral candidacy announcement and official campaign launch.
"At its best, Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods where everyone understands the importance of looking out for one another and working together to give back to the community. At times we have strayed from that model, but we can and must get back to it again. And that's why I am here today to announce my candidacy for mayor."
Kenney said he was gratified by seeing such a diverse group of people in the audience, from “every industry, every gender, every sexual orientation. We have firefighters, electricians and academics, and teachers … all kinds of folks who work everyday, pay taxes and make our communities what they are.”
As he laid out the priorities in his agenda, he emphasized fixing the school system and supporting local economy through Philadelphia’s assets.
“Every child in this city is all of our children, not someone else’s child....and that is one of the main reasons why I am running for mayor, the main reason why I quit my job,” Kenney said. “But there is one thing I know for sure and that is that Philadelphia needs to have its own vision. We will go to Harrisburg and ask for the money, we will go to Washington and ask for the money, but there is no superman in Harrisburg or Washington to come and solve our problems. Our problems are what they are, and if we are left alone we need to find a way.”
The candidate said he plans to partner with universities and businesses, and, over five years will fund pre-K for every 3 and 4 year old. "When 3 and 4 year olds get high-quality pre-K, they start school better equipped to learn, they are more likely to graduate high school, less likely to get arrested, and far more likely to succeed in their adult life.”
He added that too many neighborhoods don’t have a school that’s the center of their community. “If elected mayor, I will work hand-in-hand with city departments, community organizations, universities, and nonprofits to collaborate and transform these schools into true neighborhood centers for community activity. Schools need to be something we’re proud of again," Kenney said.
Members of the National Union of Hospitals and Health Care Employees Local 1199 were among the audience. “The reason we are here is because we are supporting councilman Kenney, because he is also member of 1199 for a long time. We decided to support him because of what he is going to stand for: trying to improve our schools, educating our very young from 3 years and older. Whatever else we can do for him, we want to try to support him,” said union member Lydia Ryle.
“I am very interested in hearing what Jim Kenney has to say. I have been a friend and supporter of his in the past, and he stands up for a lot of people who don’t have a voice in Philadelphia, which is something I really like. The immigrant populations, LGBT and others … he is not afraid to speak his mind and I appreciate that,” said Andy Toy, Commissioner at Mayor's Commission on Asian American Affairs.