Philadelphia inaugurates Jim Kenney as 99th mayor

AP logo
Monday, January 4, 2016
VIDEO: Philadelphia inaugurates Jim Kenney
Jim Kenney is now officially the 99th mayor in the city's history.

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia inaugurated native son Jim Kenney as its 99th mayor on Monday, ushering in new leadership for a city experiencing a development boom downtown but still struggling with entrenched poverty in many neighborhoods.

Kenney, 57, succeeds outgoing Mayor Michael Nutter, who leaves office after two terms. Kenney served on City Council for more than two decades before he was elected in November.

He was joined on the stage of the Academy of Music by his daughter and son, and was sworn in by newly elected state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty.

Jim Kenney takes the oath of office to become 99th mayor of Philadelphia.

Kenney said he was humbled that Dougherty, a neighborhood friend from South Philadelphia, was part of the ceremony.

"We did good, right?" he said to Dougherty.

In a brief speech, Kenney highlighted his top priorities, including poverty, universal pre-K, gentrification and quality schools for all neighborhoods.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney delivers his inaugural address at the Academy of Music in Center City.

"Our children shouldn't have to take three buses to attend a good school," he said.

He also touched on neighborhood safety and relations between police and the community.

"Black lives do matter," he said to enthusiastic applause, adding that at the same time, police officers work hard and risk their lives every day.

Sarah Bloomquist reports from the inaugural celebration at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

He said he hopes Philadelphians can work together to make the city fairer for all.

"Government simply cannot do it alone," he said. "We need our businesses, our nonprofits, our universities and everyday Philadelphians to come together and row in the same direction."

Kenney's election is credited, in part, to strong support from the black community - something Irish-American Kenney has said he considers a huge responsibility as he takes office.

Michael Nutter gives final public speech as the Mayor of Philadelphia.

He has pledged to create more jobs, including for former felons, in what is the nation's poorest big city.

Kenney assumes office after several years of progress for a city that had endured decades of decline. The murder rate dropped sharply from when Nutter took office, more students are graduating from high school, unemployment is down and Nutter declared that veteran homelessness is "effectively over."

In his time as a city councilman, Kenney worked on inequality, as well as immigration, gay rights and criminal justice reform. Kenney has pointed to his Irish roots and Jesuit upbringing as the influences that make him sensitive to these issues.

In addition to the mayor, Philadelphia's City Council was also sworn in Monday.