Mayor Jim Kenney reflects on first 100 days in office [audio]

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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney in his office at City Hall. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney in his office at City Hall. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Today marks Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s 100th day in office. Unafraid to speak his mind, he doesn’t care much for 100-day interviews.

“They’re somewhat arbitrary,” he said. “You’re really just getting your stuff started and it’s hard to make a judgment on your progress in just 100 days. I don’t know who came up with the 100-day thing.”

After a very hectic beginning to his term,  Kenney is settling into the office after 23 years as an at-large member of City Council. He has seen a distinct difference in being the city’s chief executive.

“People want to touch, talk to, shake hands with, and take selfies with their mayor,” Kenney said of the level of interaction of being mayor. “It doesn’t matter if it was me or Michael Nutter or Ed Rendell. It’s about the office. That’s the thing that is the most surprising to me after being in office for 23 years.”

Of the number of campaign promises Kenney made, including universal pre-K, improvements to parks and recreation, and an upgrade to libraries, one that has been tough to fully implement is the end of stop-and-frisk, the controversial police practice of stopping pedestrians to see if they’re a suspect in a crime. A disproportionate number of those stopped are African-American males.

Kenney said he has worked to stop elements of the practice. 

“We did put an end to the way in which it was done before, and that was an arbitrary stopping of people based on a profile,” Kenney said, adding that police make stops on residents when a crime is committed. “Randomly stopping a 20-year-old African-American male on a street corner in Philadelphia simply because he’s an African-American male who’s 20 years old is wrong and unconstitutional and that has ended.

“But police calls are going to be made, and people are going to ask us for service and direct us, and we have to keep our officers safe and the public safe by checking to see if the guy’s got a gun,” he added. 

For more of the Jim Kenney interview, including his thoughts on his most difficult mayoral moment so far, how the city is preparing for the Democratic National Convention, his thoughts on “haters,” and the proposed soda tax, press “play” at the top of the page.

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