Jim Kenney walks through City Hall on Inauguration Day with Deborah Mahler, his Deputy Mayor of Intergovernmental Affairs, and others. | Photo by Jeff Fusco
Last May, Jim Kenney won the mayoral primary in an eye-popping, record-breaking landslide, the likes of which hadn’t been seen in almost 40 years. His campaign’s secret? It built a racially and geographically diverse coalition, something pretty unprecedented in this oft-divided city.
South Philadelphians and Northwest Philadelphians, white working-class voters and prominent African-Americans, church leaders and gay rights activists — they all got behind Kenney. And Kenney promised that, when he got to City Hall, he would make his administration as diverse as the group of Philadelphians that put him there.
Has he lived up to that pledge?
In his first few weeks in office, Kenney named almost 80 high-level appointees.
A Citified analysis found that the majority of those picks — 55 percent — are women. In a city government where men have historically landed a large majority of high-paying jobs, that represents significant change. Kenney says appointing women was one of his priorities, and he has made a point of hiring senior women advisors throughout his career. As a City Councilman, his longtime chief-of-staff was Deborah Mahler. When he resigned to run for mayor, two “power women,” as the Daily News called them, played a key role in his mayoral campaign: manager Jane Slusser and PR pro Lauren Hitt. Now all three are in the top echelon of Kenney’s City Hall.
Millennials are also well represented in the upper ranks of Kenney’s administration: about 18 percent of his top picks are 35 or younger, and many are holding down big-time jobs. The city’s budget director, chief data officer, and director of emergency management are all 35 or under. So are Slusser and Hitt.
But when it comes to another factor — race and ethnicity — Kenney’s top appointees do not reflect the population of Philadelphia. Sixty-six percent of his high-level appointments are white, 22 percent are black, 8 percent are Latino, 3 percent are Asian, and 1 percent are Native American. Comparatively, Philadelphia’s citizenry is 36 percent white, 41 black, 14 percent Latino, 7 percent Asian and less than 1 percent Native American.
When I ask Kenney’s spokeswoman if he is satisfied with that mix, she’s blunt. “No,” says Hitt. “He’s not.” Read more »