7 Big Shots on Jim Kenney’s Speech

Johnny Doc, Mike Nutter, Bill Green and others rate the mayor's inaugural address.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Brand-spanking-new Mayor Jim Kenney delivered a concise and warm inaugural speech on Monday, which praised police officers and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as longtime Philadelphians and recent transplants, alike. (You can read our full story on Kenney’s inaugural address here, and check out photos of the ceremony here.) We asked seven boldface-name Philadelphians, from Kenney ally Johnny Doc to Kenney foe Bill Green, what they thought of his speech. Here’s what they said:

Michael Nutter, the former mayor (that felt weird to type): “Great speech. He emphasized, reemphasized many of the themes that he talked about as a candidate in the primary and general and then afterward. So, completely consistent with what we know are his priorities. It is a great agenda. It is going to help continue to move the city forward. I think most folks recognize the city has a sense of momentum right now. We’re really kind of on a roll.”

John Dougherty, the politically power leader of the city’s electricians union who helped put Kenney in the mayor’s office: “It’s real simple. He’s been about service, sincerity and substance his whole life. So if you follow those three S’s, you’ll bump into Jimmy Kenney. I thought he let the people know that he’s going to have a government that works. I think he’s going to take it to every neighborhood. I’ve been here quite a few mayors … I think that he starts off with the best of every one, without the distractions of any one.”

Jerry Jordan, president of Philadelphia’s teachers union: “I thought that his speech was a great one, one that will move the city forward if we’re able to implement the points that he made in the speech. I think this is a city that has a tremendous potential. He talked about improving the schools and he talked about a way of doing it. He was very specific, as opposed to the very nebulous statements that people make. You know, ‘we need to improve schools,’ but they don’t say how. He certainly was very clear about community schools being the model to provide wraparound services children need.”

Bill Green, a current School Reform Commissioner, a former Councilman and a longtime foe of Kenney’s: “My mantra in City Council was for a fair, transparent and efficient government. I agree with Mayor Kenney that it is far easier said than done. I am heartened to hear that focus in his administration. I look forward to working with the mayor on our school system. It is more important to our city than anything else.”

Pete Matthews, president of District Council 33, the city government’s blue-collar union: “It was a great speech. Looking forward to what’s going to happen in the new year. I’m looking forward to contract negotiations. Thought everything was great. Thought the whole inauguration was really great. I love what he said about city employees and the work that they did for the city, so I think that’s a very good sign.”

Marian Tasco, a former Councilwoman and one of Kenney’s most important allies during the mayoral campaign: “I thought it was on point. He hasn’t changed his message. It’s the message he had during the campaign. He’s a sincere mayor and I think he’ll work very hard to achieve those goals. Short and sweet. But look, you don’t have to eat the whole cow to know it’s beef.”

Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia NAACP: “It was short and to the point. I think he’s going to do a lot more than he’s going to say. I’m looking forward to some things like ending stop-and-frisk, universal pre-K. Let’s get out of the business of people’s destiny being determined by their zip code. I’m looking forward to marrying a relationship between the public and private sectors to expand not just educational, but employment, opportunities. So I think the next four years we have some real challenges we want to meet … and I think the thing that Jim Kenney is offering is a philosophy that’ll lift all the boats and bring all the communities together. Somebody’s got to try it. And I’d rather try that and fail than to sit back and leave us divided.”