CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Since deciding late to throw his hat into the ring, former at-large city councilman Jim Kenney has been moving fast. He has been gathering up major endorsements at a rapid pace from major unions, community groups, and in what is considered a major coup, a faction of black elected officials from the city's strong turnout northwestern wards.
On the issue of improving Philadelphia's schools, Kenney says he believes in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the progressive line. Kenney calls for, "Universal pre-k for all 3 and 4-year-olds in the city." He says, "I think it's the beginning of a change of a generation to achievers."
Kenney believes he must address this town's deeply entrenched poverty.
"We have a 26 percent poverty rate in the city where people haven't worked in a long time or ever," Kenney explains.
He says the goal is to, "Get people coming out of incarceration that we don't want to go back. It's $40,000 a year to keep them locked up, as opposed to them getting a good job and pay taxes."
During his more than 20 years on city council, Kenney has had to wrestle with balancing the budget and the issue of taxes. Kenney believes we need to continue to search for tax solutions, but explains it's not a simple fix.
Kenney says, "People say they are going to get rid of the wage tax or cut the wage tax by a point you'd better to be prepared to have a city with very little services."
Police brutality and overuse of deadly force have erupted into a national issue and debate. Kenney admits, "I think we have an issue with relations between our minorities communities and police. We need to improve that."
When asked how, Kenney says, "You train."
And Kenney says if he is elected mayor, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey stays if he wants the job. If Ramsey doesn't want to stay, then Kenney says he will promote from within the department ranks.
Kenney says, "When it comes to keeping people safe and keeping the public secure, and treating people fairly, the police department is the most critical department. And I will have a commissioner who will do that."
Jim Kenney has won city-wide elections for city council time and time again. But the mayor's race is a different creature and the last two mayors of Philadelphia came from the ranks of district councilmen when they won the brass ring.
Jim Kenney Mayoral Candidate Profile