Philly reacts to Mayor Kenney’s vocal dissatisfaction with his job.
One of the bummers about holding an elected office has to be the constant public scrutiny — every word, every gesture is a potential political landmine. Still: that’s part of the job. Politicians in major cities like Philadelphia train their entire career how to finesse the press, it’s hard to comprehend how Kenney could’ve blundered so bad. “I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not the mayor and I can enjoy some stuff.” He literally said that.
But it was a middle-of-the-night press conference, after two police officers were shot during Independence Day festivities on the Parkway. And he was expressing his frustration with permissive gun laws, and the constant emotional toll he bears from the violence in our streets:
We live in America and we have the Second Amendment. And we have the Supreme Court of the United States saying everybody can carry a gun wherever they want. It’s like Dodge City. So like, we have to come to grips with what this country is about right now. We had a beautiful day out there today except for some nitwit, either shooting from a window or shooting from somewhere, who has a gun they probably shouldn’t have had.
I’m concerned every single day. There’s not an event or a day where I don’t lay on my back and look at the ceiling and wonder and worry about stuff. So everything we have in the city over the last seven years, I worry about. I don’t enjoy Fourth of July. I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention. The NFL Draft. I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So it’s — I’ll be happy when I’m not here, when I’m not the Mayor and I can enjoy some stuff.
— Mayor Jim Kenney (July 4, 2022)
When you read his comments in full context, does it sound like a leader who’s checked out on his people? Are we really surprised that those calling loudest for his resignation are next in line for the position? Honest questions and valid concerns! Although Kenney apologized the next day, the story spun into national news and sparked opinions across the globe.
How we feeling locally? Should the mayor be granted a moment of humanity? Or does this latest flub show his game is slipping? I hit the streets of Philly to ask residents, “Did Jim Kenney’s brutal honesty make you Mad or Nah…?”
Neighbors sound off! NOTE: Some speakers provide their names & neighborhoods, some don’t. Check out their voices in the original recorded interviews (above), transcribed here:
- It does, it does. Because it’s like, “Forget about the city, I just want to be out of here.” And this has existed for a long time while he has been mayor, and nothing is improved. It’s just it’s so disheartening. Finally, people were able to get together again, to have a good time to be happy. And this happens. I mean, it happens every day. I’m afraid to bring my grandchildren to visit me in Philadelphia, because we like to come down to Old City we’d like to go shopping, eat downtown. I’m afraid. – Resident, Brewerytown
- Not angry. Puzzled. I don’t blame him, it’s a tough gig. – Resident, Old City
- Well, it does make me mad, actually. I’m not even from here. It makes me want to completely leave to a more secure place. It’s just terrifying. I live here for five years now. Deciding where to go in your US right now is like, “Uhh, not so safe.” — Resident, Center City
- You see this happening all over the country. I can’t imagine being a mayor or a police chief in a major city in the US right now. I think it would just be a brutal job. We’re in a crazy situation. – Resident
- I’m disappointed. The mayor was a decent city councilman. I worked for the city for 35 years. I worked with him. I think he is out of his league. For a long time. I’ve been concerned about his behavior, he seems overwhelmed. Last night only confirmed that. Leaders should provide leadership, and I don’t think he’s doing it. And if he doesn’t want to be mayor, I think he should resign now instead of waiting till next year. It’s unfortunate. I have to admit, the City’s not like it used to be and I’m a little concerned about the way things are going. And the mayor seems to have checked out – he himself said he’s checked out. So maybe he oughta check out all the way. – Russell, Center City
- It doesn’t quite make me mad, but it is a little upsetting, that coming from a sitting mayor, like, sitting currently. But I also think the bigger concern is that the two cops were shot and then I’m sure the mayor spent a lot of time down there at the police station or wherever, even at the hospital. And so to have those comments come immediately after that is maybe a reflection of how the whole law enforcement might be feeling right now and that is actually more concerning for the people of Philadelphia if you asked me. — Scranton, Pennsylvania (works weekly in Philly)
- Guess he’s tired. Tired of whatever is causing problems – there’s a lot of problems here in the city. He can’t handle it. – Resident, North Philly
How ‘Bout You?
Mad or Nah is an original woman-on-the-street interview series from REVIVE Radio that asks Philadelphians about issues impacting their everyday life. This edition originally aired July 6, 2022 on WHYY.com and on 90.9FM.
Tamara Russell aka Proof of Consciousness aka P.O.C. hosts and produces a variety of award-winning shows featured on Uptown Radio 98.5FM and Philly’s WHYY/NPR/PBS outlets. Read more in our feature on this multi-talented motivator — and The Local’s new publisher! — here: New Attitude (March 2022).