Meet the Mayoral Candidates-Jim Kenney

by Heather Shayne Blakeslee 


His Story:

Kenney was born in South Philadelphia and raised by a firefighter and homemaker. He got his first union card at 17, and went on to get a degree from La Salle University, becoming the first person in his family to go to college. He’s served in City Council since 1991, and as a self-proclaimed progressive, his causes have included rights for the LGBTQ community, decriminalizing marijuana and fashioning a broader immigration policy for the City. He’s been the chair of several committees in Council, including the Committee on the Environment. He resigned from his seat to run for mayor. His campaign website is the only one that lists the environment as a platform issue and he believes that, “If Philadelphians come together, we can make quality public schools, safer streets and living-wage jobs a reality in every neighborhood.” 

Vision for a sustainable Philadelphia

I believe that locating, cultivating and maintaining access to green space in every Philadelphia neighborhood is vital to the success and growth of the city. As mayor, I will provide City support to community and neighborhood groups to develop and enhance green spaces throughout the City. I also believe that Philadelphia must make investments in making our City buildings increasingly energy-efficient. In 2014, along with my City Council colleagues, I pushed for the Department of Public Property to study all police stations and firehouses to determine necessary repairs and enhancements to make the buildings safer and cheaper to operate. As mayor, I will continue this effort. I will also explore the expansion of zoning and development incentives for Green buildings and the installation of real--time energy monitoring in City- facilities. 

Would you maintain or expand funding the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability?

Yes. In 2006, as a City Council member, I was one of the first proponents of purchasing
hybrid vehicles for Philadelphia’s vehicle fleet. As mayor, I will continue to push all City departments to embrace these energy-efficient alternatives to make investments in all of
Philadelphia’s public infrastructure to protect our environment and save money for future generations.

What’s your perspective on balancing public health and economic development?

Growing our economy and protecting our environment are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in my view, they’re closely tied. So, as mayor, I will expand our economy with an eye towards making Philadelphia’s economy diverse and creating a healthy, clean city that is worthy of the DNC Convention and other
economic investment. 

On safe streets for cyclists and pedestrians

As mayor, I will adopt a “Vision Zero” (see Grid’s "The Progress That's at Stake" page in this section) goal for the City of Philadelphia. I will take a multi-faceted approach to implementing “Vision Zero.” This includes continuing and expanding on the work of the Nutter administration by increasing the number and safeness of bike lanes throughout our city. I will form a Vision Zero Task Force made up of stakeholders from local and state transportation agencies, public safety agencies, advocacy groups, local businesses and community members. This taskforce will create a Vision Zero Action Plan for Philadelphia so that we can ensure that no more lives are lost needlessly to  preventable traffic accidents. 

On cleaner neighborhoods

A great deal of litter results from improperly set--out trash. Reducing litter requires a comprehensive approach that increases both education and enforcement. As mayor, I will increase coordination between trash collectors and the litter enforcement agents (e.g., trash day ride-alongs) and expand programs like circular--free stickers. SWEEP (see Grid’s "The Progress That's at Stake" page in this section) is a great program, but it needs expansion so that our officer patrols are better coordinated with the hours when curbside trash is set out. I would also explore a plastic bag fee to directly fund the expansion of enforcement efforts and other anti--litter programming.