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Mayor Jim Kenney said he voted for Cherelle Parker to be Philadelphia’s next mayor, but cautioned that his vote doesn’t constitute an endorsement of the former Council member.
“I think she has the best opportunity to move the city forward. She knows more than anyone else on that ticket about the city government,” Kenney said. “I think she has the ability to lead the city forward and honestly I think it’s time for a woman of color, a Black woman who helped me along with Marian Tasco, Gussie Clark, and others. She deserves my vote.”
Kenney said he voted by mail in advance of Primary Election Day, which is legal in the city of Philadelphia. His comments came as he announced on Monday plans to help Philadelphia’s next mayor smoothly transition into office.
Just before closing the announcement, Kenney spoke out about the number of former mayor’s making endorsements in this campaign, something he said hasn’t happened in recent memory.
Former mayors Ed Rendell, John Street, and Michael Nutter have put their support behind Rebecca Rhynhart.
“Bill Green endorsed Alan Domb, I don’t know how many people were alive when Bill Green was mayor, to be honest with you,” he said. Green was mayor in the early 1980s. “To be honest with you, I’m waiting to see who Mayor Rizzo and Tate endorsed because that will be coming soon.” Frank Rizzo died in 1991 and James Tate died in 1983.
Kenney said he’s making plans now to help whoever replaces him be successful. Those plans include a transition director and a committee made up of key city employees to ease the next mayor into the job.
“I love the city, I want the city to thrive and to do well, there’s no reason for me to be planting bombs or potholes for people. I want it to be a smooth transition.”
Kenney would not say if he ran into any roadblocks as he took office nearly eight years ago, but said he felt the hand-off from the Nutter administration wasn’t as smooth as he would have liked it to be.
“We’re going to be more engaged than the last administration did. I don’t remember a robust process like this from the last administration to my transition. I mean, it was perfunctory, but it wasn’t in-depth.”
Kenney signed an Executive Order creating the position of transition director. He appointed his deputy chief of staff Lyana Cuadrado to the new role.
Cuadrado spoke about how the transition will impact thousands of city employees who work to keep the city running smoothly. Her goal is to make the changeover successful.
“It is in everyone’s best interest for that to happen,” Cuadrado said. “That includes Mayor Kenney, the next mayor, the city employees like me who are proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last eight years, and most importantly, the residents who rely on all of us to promote their well-being and a strong future for the city.”
Even though the General Election is still six months away, Kenney said it’s not too early to prep. That’s partly due to the fact that next week’s Democratic primary vote will likely crown his replacement. A Republican hasn’t been elected to the city’s top post since the 1950s. With the overwhelming majority Democrats maintain in voter registration, that’s very unlikely to change.
“For all intents and purposes, whoever wins the Democratic primary is going to be the next mayor. So I don’t think it’s too early,” Kenney said. “I think it’s probably the right time.”
The transition effort will also get help from the Committee of Seventy.
“[The Committee of Seventy] is currently planning briefings for the mayoral primary winners that will bring together veteran officials from past administrations and practitioners from other cities,” said Ashley Session, the group’s senior director of external affairs.
Despite the voter registration advantage, Session said the briefings will be provided for both winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries.