Philadelphia’s political power brokers descended on City Hall Wednesday as former Councilman Jim Kenney officially launched his campaign for mayor, some offering endorsements and others seeking favors.
“We’re going to line the labor movement up behind him,” said Henry Nicholas, president of 1199 AFSCME, the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare employees.
“I’m driving this train — and we’ve got a winner,” Nicholas said.
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Imam Yahya Abdul Latif, a leader of the city’s Islamic community, said he was not yet endorsing Kenney, but was attending the launch to meet the man.
“On the outside, he appears like he could be a good mayor,” Latif said. “But what’s he going to do when he gets in the mayor’s office?”
Wayne Jacobs, head of X-offenders for Community Empowerment, said he liked the fact that Kenney took a stand in support of marijuana decriminalization.
“[Kenney] addressing the whole issue of the pipeline to prison, the fact that they were coming into our communities for 85 percent of the arrests — that meant a lot,” Jacobs said.
The crowd of more than 200 cheered wildly as Kenney entered the Mayor’s Reception Room in City Hall to make his announcement.
During his campaign launch speech, Kenney vowed to focus on making schools safe and positive places for children, including with after school activities; tailoring community college offerings to the city’s job needs and reducing the wage tax and business taxes.
He also pledged to bring about “high-quality pre-K for every qualified 3 and 4 year old,” saying that if the money couldn’t be found to support such a program, “we should be ashamed of ourselves.”
“Philadelphia can never reach its true potential until every citizen has an opportunity to share in the prosperity that we have in our town,” he said.
Kenney resigned from his seat as a City Councilman-at-Large last week after 23 years to run for mayor.
His rivals for the Democratic nomination are state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, former D.A. Lynne Abraham and former City Solicitor and retired Judge Nelson Diaz.