Jim Kenney, who resigned his seat in Philadelphia City Council last week, has formally announced he’s running for mayor.
Lobbyists and union workers packed the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall where Kenney made it official Wednesday, surrounded by the portraits of Philadelphia mayors of yore.
“It’s a beautiful room, probably one of the most iconic rooms in the city of Philadelphia,” he said.
It’s the room where Kenney attended events as an at-large city councilman for 23 years and the room where he came as a 7-year-old to watch his father’s promotion to captain in the Philadelphia Fire Department. (And in case you’re wondering what that room goes for, Kenney’s campaign paid $750.)
The larger significance of the venue wasn’t lost on Kenney, who admitted he’s “a little bit behind” when it comes to fundraising. Campaign finance reports released Monday showed him with just $76,600 in the bank at the end of 2014.
In a brief speech, Kenney spoke about the need to eliminate what he calls “The Philly Shrug,” an attitude that the city can’t find ways to fix its problems.
“I want to be the can-do city that we all know we are,” he said.
Kenney proposed a five-year plan to expand preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds by tapping the city’s universities, businesses and nonprofits to help families who don’t qualify for state aid.
“If I can’t get the money from Harrisburg or Washington, we’re going to find a way to get it here,” he said.
According to campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt, the plan would ultimately cost about $53 million per year.
Kenney also spoke about making the city’s public schools into neighborhood community centers and creating partnerships between businesses and community colleges.
“I’ve had these ideas that are kind of banging around my head like a hockey puck,” he said. “When you’re a council member there’s certain things you’re able to do and certain things you’re able to accomplish. But sometimes, they’re not the way you want them accomplished, they’re not the vision that you had.”
To realize that vision, Kenney said, you’ve got to be mayor.