A lifelong city resident, Mayor Jim Kenney grew up the oldest of four children in a South Philadelphia rowhome. His father, a firefighter, and his mother, a homemaker, both worked second jobs to help their children pursue their education and, in 1980, Jim became the first in his family to graduate from college. Just a decade later, Philadelphians elected him to serve as a City Councilman At-Large and, over the next twenty years, Jim stood up for Philadelphia’s working families and progressive policies —fighting for a real living wage, broader protections for LGBTQ Philadelphians, marijuana decriminalization, and a more sensible immigration policy.
On January 4, 2016, Jim was sworn in as the 99th Mayor of Philadelphia. In his first budget, the Mayor worked closely with City Council to fund bold anti-poverty initiatives – including expansion of quality pre-k, the creation of 25 community schools and $500M investment in parks, rec centers and libraries – by making Philadelphia the first major city to pass a tax on sweetened beverages. In his first year, the Mayor also increased efforts to spur economic growth in the city’s commercial corridors, launching a capital consortium for small businesses, creating a small business coach program, and expanding supports, including financial grants and loans, to small and immigrant businesses. Philadelphia also shined on the national stage in 2016, successfully hosting the Democratic National Convention and safely monitoring peaceful protests, without a single arrest. At the same time, the City finished 2016 with the lowest crime rate in nearly 40 years.
Under the Trump administration, the Mayor has also stepped up to defend the values of the City of Brotherly Love. When the Department of Justice threatened to take away funding for Philadelphia police officers unless they acted as an extension of ICE, the City sued and won. The Mayor also kept Philadelphia’s commitment to the Paris Accord, and he created a World-Style Soccer Tournament called the “Unity Cup” to celebrate the city’s diversity and bring different neighborhoods together. Even though the federal government hasn’t provided additional resources to combat the opioid epidemic, the City still stepped up its commitment, cleaning up a heroin encampment and engaging 1,400 former residents for direct services, including housing and drug treatment. In his second year as Mayor, Philadelphia made significant strides in both criminal justice reform and education. The City reduced its prison population by nearly 20 percent as part of the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge, and the number of pedestrian stops were cut in half.
Building on his administration’s early commitment to education, the Mayor recently launched an effort to return the School District to local control and to provide adequate financial funding resources for our teachers and students, so that every Philadelphian has a quality school in their neighborhood.