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February 04, 2015

Kenney formally announces mayoral candidacy

Ex-Philly councilman vows to shift focus to jobs, education

Politics Mayoral Race
Jim Kenney Photo by @JimFKenney/Twitter

Councilman Jim Kenney

Jim Kenney formally announced his mayoral candidacy Wednesday, telling a crowd of supporters that Philadelphia needs a leader of its own vision.

"There is no Superman in Harrisburg trying to solve our problems," Kenney said. "There is no Superman in Washington. Our problems are what they are, and we need to get our arms around them and deal with them."

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Speaking at the mayor's reception hall in City Hall, Kenney said the next administration needs to make schools the centerpiece of neighborhoods, improve job training opportunities, and continue the reduction of city wage and business taxes.

Kenney also seeks to make high-quality Pre-K available to every child in the city. He noted Philadelphia has found money to fund stadiums and a convention center, so funding early childhood education programs also should be possible.

"If we can't find the money to spend on these children and we can spend it on all these other projects, we should be ashamed of ourselves," Kenney said.

Kenney resigned his at-large city council seat last week to join a six-candidate mayoral race that includes state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, former District Attorney Lynne Abraham and former city solicitor Nelson Diaz. 

Campaign finance reports filed Monday reveal Williams had about $426,000 on hand at the Dec. 31 deadline, easily the most among the candidates. Kenney had raised about $76,000.

When asked about the funding gap, Kenney remained confident that he will gain the funding needed to be competitive.

"You don't have second thoughts after you resign — that's life," Kenney said after his announcement. "I won't be specific, but we've had an extremely successful week and things are financially picking up. I have no doubt [we'll] be in a good spot when it comes to ... getting on TV."

Kenney declined to advocate for keeping or dissolving the School Reform Commission, a prominent issue on the campaign trail, saying he does not hold the authority to do either. Instead, Kenney pledged to work with whatever governing body controls the school district. 

He took the opportunity to praise Superintendent William Hite.

"I will do everything that I can on this campaign and as mayor to make sure that man stays," Kenney said. "He is awesome. Everyone I speak to — the principals, the teachers, the students — they love him. And he's doing a great job under horrible circumstances." 

Kenney also praised Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, saying he "absolutely would be on the list" to lead the police department under his administration.