Jim Kenney wishes he wasn’t Philadelphia’s mayor. City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and Councilman Derek Green – like Kenny, both Democrats – now wish the same.
Kenney drew their reproaches after confessing to reporters on Monday, July 4, that city violence has made his job a displeasure that he looks forward to concluding.
“There’s not an event or a day when I don’t lay on my back and look at the ceiling and worry about stuff,” the mayor said. “So everything we have in the city over the last seven years I worry about: I don’t enjoy Fourth of July; I [didn’t] enjoy the  Democratic National Convention; I didn’t enjoy the [National Football League] Draft. I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time, so I’ll be happy when I’m not here – when I’m not mayor – and I can enjoy some stuff.”
When reporters asked if he truly happily awaits his administration’s end, he laughingly answered, “Yeah, as a matter of fact.”
Kenney proclaimed his glumness after two police officers suffered gunshot wounds amidst a July Fourth celebration on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. So far, 2022 has been an especially violent year for the City of Brotherly Love, with over 940 nonfatal shooting victims, 236 gun-related homicides, and 267 murders in total.
Green, one of seven at-large members of Philadelphia’s City Council, responded to the chief executive’s self-pity unequivocally in a Twitter post.
“@JimFKenney We are all exhausted by the level of gun violence in our City,” he wrote. “However, our City needs someone now with the passion and vision to lead us forward. Resign.”
Rhynhart went no gentler on her senior colleague.
“Wow,” she tweeted. “This is the most irresponsible statement. Our city needs leadership, not someone who doesn’t want the job. We deserve better.”
Former district attorney and fellow Democrat Seth Williams replied to her post with his own rebuke of the mayor.
“Bad for citizens that need hope, bad for morale of all city employees, bad for tourism, bad for business,” he wrote.
Councilman Allan Domb, yet another Democrat, later added his voice to the groundswell encouraging Kenney’s departure. His At-Large Council colleague Katherine Gilmore-Richardson (D) was only slightly more measured, asking him to make an “in or out” decision “affirming his interest in serving” the 18 months remaining in his term, apologizing to city residents and outlining an “operational plan” to address gun violence.
Like Kenney, Rhynhart and Domb, the mayor’s longstanding Republican critics lent him no sympathy, except in looking forward to his leaving City Hall.
“What kind of leadership is this?” Former federal prosecutor Bill McSwain sounded off in a Twitter post.
Christian Nascimento, the GOP nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County-based 4th district echoed calls for Kenney to step down.
“Please just go now and stop making the whole region less safe,” the candidate urged.
Pennsylvania Republican Party State Director Thomas Donohue commented that the mayor’s words underscore a general lack of capable public officials in Philadelphia. (District Attorney Larry Krasner, a progressive Democrat known for his leniency toward violent crime, has also elicited bipartisan criticism in this regard.)
“Everyone deserves a safe neighborhood,” Donohue tweeted. “Mayor Kenney’s flippant attitude is reflective of Philadelphia’s broader leadership problem. #Philadelphia”
On Tuesday afternoon, Kenny issued a statement qualifying his Monday remarks, professing himself “deeply grateful” to preside as mayor.
“I care deeply about the safety of our residents and the future of our city, and that’s why I’m disappointed with how I conveyed my sentiments last night,” he said. “I made Philadelphians feel like I don’t care, and that cannot be further from the truth. I’ve said it many times before, I lay awake at night thinking about the challenges facing the residents in our city and what more we can be doing or doing differently to solve them. Being mayor comes with a lot of restless nights, so I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep.”
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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jim Kenney” by Mayor Jim Kenney. Photo “Rebecca Rhynhart” by Rebecca for Philadelphia. Photo “Derek Green” by Councilmember Derek Green. Background Photo “Philadelphia Skyline” by Adam Jones. CC BY-SA 2.0.