Philly mayor undergoes medical procedure

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at City Council. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at City Council. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is undergoing surgery for a heart condition, but city officials believe a transfer of power isn’t necessary.

The mayor, 63, suffers from atrial fibrillation and he is undergoing a common medical procedure called an ablation, which is designed to block abnormal electrical signals in order to restore a normal heart rhythm, according to City Hall. About 75,000 of the procedures are done in the United States annually.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the treatment “uses heat or cold energy to create tiny scars in your heart to block the abnormal electrical signals and restore a normal heartbeat.”

Kenney will undergo anesthesia and remain out of the office for two days.

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He plans to be back to work on Thursday.

The procedure does require anesthesia, which technically makes Kenney incapacitated and unable to perform the duties of his office. City officials said they do not expect the situation to require anyone to take over the mayor’s duties.

“The City does not expect the mayor’s absence to impact operations during the time out of the office,” Kenney spokesperson Kevin Lessard said. “Those appointees with operational control and responsibility will continue to perform their duties.”

Under the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter that governs city administration, City Council President Darrell Clarke would serve as mayor if Kenney is temporarily unable to perform his duties.

“Until the vacancy is filled, or in case of the Mayor’s temporary disability, the President of the Council shall act as Mayor,” the charter reads.

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In this case, the administration does not plan to hand over powers to Clarke.

“We do not believe being under anesthesia for a few hours constitutes ‘temporary disability’ for the purposes of the Charter,” Lessard said.

A spokesperson for Clarke would only say the mayor’s office is handling the response.

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