The day after winning the Philadelphia mayor’s race, Jim Kenney returned to a public elementary school he visited on the campaign trail. One kindergartner asked him a pretty pointed question: “What can mayors do for kids?”
“For kids? Our best,” Kenney replied. “The best we can.”
The little boy shrugged.
Before this interaction at Andrew Jackson School in South Philadelphia, Kenney spoke to reporters in another classroom where he formally launched the transition process he quietly began over the summer after soundly defeating five other Democrats in the primary.
He launched the transition website KenneyForPhiladelphia.com, and he plans to hold a series of town halls to get input from Philadelphians on what they want to see from his administration. Feedback from those meetings will be folded into a transition report to be released in January. Kenney will announce the heads of his transition team Thursday.
Among his top priorities is universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds in the city, a promise he made during the campaign. Kenney said he wants to roll out that plan by next September.
But first, he’ll start with the city budget — that’s where he plans to find some of the $60 million he needs to fund it. The rest will come from corporations and nonprofits.
“We’re going to get it done, that’s the only thing I can tell you,” Kenney said. “And in January, we’ll get started.”
He expects to announce the names of major staffers before Thanksgiving, such as the chief education officer who’ll help him execute the pre-K plan.
While Kenney would not name names Wednesday, he strongly hinted that his choice to replace outgoing Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey would be Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross, whom Ramsey had groomed to take his place.
“Connect the dots,” Kenney said on that subject.
As for how he’ll stay connected to city life as he prepares to take its highest office: “Ride the subway,” Kenney said, pulling a token out of his pocket and noting he’s already talked to his potential police commissioner about forming a security detail that won’t mind riding SEPTA.
“Just being a normal person and realizing you put your pants on every day just like everybody else and everybody has similar problems to you, you can stay connected,” he said.