Jim Kenney Elected Mayor — Now What?
(Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Check back for updates.)
Jim Kenney — the firefighter’s son, former Vince Fumo-protege and the surprising champion of an emerging progressive political coalition — was elected Philadelphia’s 99th mayor today.
In Kenney, the city has chosen a passionate, intelligent and empathic man who oozes affection for Philadelphia and its people. At his best, Kenney fuses the innovation and restlessness of new Philadelphia with the strength, resilience and character of old Philadelphia.
But Philadelphians are also getting a mayor who was never really tested in his audition for the grueling job ahead. His primary opponents were a feckless bunch, and all Kenney had to do to win was avoid big mistakes. Kenney has yet to articulate a clear vision for his administration — he didn’t have to to win.
Kenney’s latest contest with Melissa Murray Bailey shed even less light on Kenney’s plans. Bailey was a virtual unknown, and Democrats outnumber Republicans in Philadelphia by about 7-1. The predictable result was a Kenney romp. Bailey claimed just over 13 percent of the vote, with nearly 98 percent of precincts reporting. That’s a paltry total even by the standards of Philadelphia GOP mayoral nominees not-named-Sam-Katz.
So. Now what? The formalities have been taken care of. The awkward and peculiar 5+ month interregnum between Kenney’s real victory in May, and his formal election on Tuesday, is finally over.
Kenney is at last free to act the part of mayor-elect. But he didn’t start tonight.
His victory speech was under three minutes long, and Kenney left the room quickly. The mood at his victory party was buoyant enough, but it had an anti-climactic quality (how could it not?). As for themes, agendas and so forth? Kenney glancingly hit on what looks like it could be the animating mission of his administration:
I want a lot of things for our 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. A place where we not only agree that all neighborhoods matters, but where we act on it.
But that was it. He didn’t address how the city will “act on it.” Tomorrow, maybe, when Kenney formally launches his transition at the Andrew Jackson School.
Until then, gaze into the crystal ball with Citified, as we take our best guesses and who will take the top jobs in the Kenney administration.
In other Philadelphia election news…
With the exception of the nail-biter in the minority Council at-large race, everything unfolded just as you’d expect.
The incumbent Democratic row officers — that’d be Sheriff Jewell Williams and Register of Wills Ron Donatucci — easily won re-election (though it’s worth nothing that GOP Sheriff candidate Christopher Sawyer, who runs the muckraking Philadelinquency blog, posted a bigger share of the vote than any other Republican candidate on the ballot Tuesday, with nearly 21 percent of the citywide vote).
And each of the three ballot questions were approved by voters as well, which means the city’s office of LGBT affairs is now permanent; the city has a new department of planning and development; and the city has a green light to borrow $156 million for routine capital expenses.