Jim Kenney reflects on year one as Philadelphia mayor

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
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Mayor Kenney spoke to Action News about his first year on the job.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's been nearly a year since Jim Kenney was sworn in as Philadelphia's 99th mayor.

Action News sat down with Kenney to reflect on his first year and look ahead to what's next.

Kenney flashed a sarcastic smile in response to critics who say he should be seen smiling more often.

Towards the end of year one of his first term, Kenney is a busy man who just last week dressed as a Christmas elf to the delight of young children.

"I think if you walk around smiling all the time, you'll go crazy, especially in this environment," Kenney said.

The mayor is still reflecting on his victory over opponents of his sweetened beverage tax which is soon to be implemented to raise millions for his universal Pre-K program and renovations of city recreation centers.

"We have nine community schools that are up and running. We'll have 25 before the end of term and we're moving forward with rebuild," Kenney said.

Police community relations appear to be stable and improving since he phased out the so-called stop and frisk program that triggered so many charges of illegal racial profiling.

"Our aggregate pedestrian stops are down. Our unconstitutional pedestrian stops are down. Our weapons confiscations are up. So we're stopping the right people," Kenney said.

How does he explain that? "Common sense, discipline, training," Kenney said.

Union boss Johnnie Dougherty is constantly in the FBI headlights as the federal probe continues. The feds have the files from Mayor Kenney's campaign, but the mayor says he's done nothing wrong and hasn't heard a thing.

"He is a friend of mine. We grew up together. I don't know what the federal government is doing or not doing and I can't really speculate," Kenney said.

As Mayor Kenney looks ahead to the New Year, one of the most intriguing and unpredictable questions on his mind is what can he expect from the Donald Trump White House.

"If he's talking about big infrastructure projects for cities and states, I'm all for that because that means jobs. We do disagree on some issues relative to immigration and other types of social issues," Kenney said.

Will President Trump, for example, take away federal funding because of Philadelphia clinging to sanctuary city status, refusing to turn over non-criminal undocumented workers to immigration authorities?

It is a threat Donald Trump made on his road to the White House.

It's a situation that Kenney, and all of Philadelphia, will keep an eye on as 2017 unfolds.