2019 Mayoral Candidate


Jim Kenney

Party: Democrat
Previous occupations: City Councilperson
Campaign Website
Philly Progressives Profile
Candidate questionnaire: Not completed
Contact information:

Originally from South Philadelphia, Kenney served as an at-large city councilperson for 24 years before taking office as mayor in 2016. Now, he is running for a second term. Kenney is most famous for establishing Philadelphia as a sanctuary city, championing the soda tax as part of the Rebuild Initiative to repair parks and schools, promoting his community schools idea, and pushing for criminal justice reform.


This candidate has declined to answer a candidate questionnaire.


  • Championed a 1.5-cent tax per ounce on sugary beverages, which city council passed in 2016. The measure was supposed to raise $500 million over several years, to be spent on various infrastructure and school projects, and has received significant criticism since. (source)

  • Signed legislation to gradually increase the minimum wage for city workers and contractors to $15 an hour (source)

  • Signed Fair Work Week legislation to require notice for employee schedules, more breaks, and opportunities to work more hours (source)

  • Launched the Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent work readiness program (source)


  • Returned control of the School District of Philadelphia from the State’s School Reform Commission back to the City (source)

  • Champions a “community schools” initiative, which aims to combine health, food, and other services with schooling to help meet various needs in communities (source)

  • Supports instituting a moratorium on new charter schools until the state reimburses Philadelphia for their costs (source)

  • Supports increasing funding for public schools, and supports raising property taxes to achieve this (source)

  • Generally supports increasing funding for public schools (source)

  • Supports expanding access to pre-K education, and created the PHLpreK program to provide free pre-K (source)

Criminal justice reform

  • Wrote successfully passed legislation that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana possession (source)

  • Supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use, to be sold by the sate liquor stores (source)

  • Opposed to stop-and-frisk policies, and supports equipping all police officers with body cameras and requiring civil rights training for officers (source)

  • Budgeted to equip 1,500 police officers with body cameras by fiscal year 2021 (source)


  • Supports increasing the number of bike lanes throughout the city (source)

  • Supports expanding the subway to the Navy Yard, with state cooperation, and revitalizing certain public transit stops (source)

  • Budgeted $200 million over five years for street repairs in the most recent budget proposal (source)

  • Budgeted $2.5 million more for the public libraries in the most recent budget proposal (source)

  • Budgeted $1.9 million more for the Office of Property Assessment in the most recent proposal (source)

  • Opposed a new construction tax that city council proposed, and instead has allocated $80.4 million from homes coming off of the 10-year tax abatement for affordable housing programs (source)

  • Launched the Rebuild program, which aims to revitalize public infrastructure like parks and schools (source)

Public safety

  • Proposed a budget increase of $54 million for the Philadelphia Police Department in the latest budget proposal (source)

  • Proposed a budget increase of $45 million for the Philadelphia Fire Department in the latest budget proposal (source)

  • Declared opioid use an emergency, created a Narcan program to make overdose reversal more accessible, created a specialized opioid taskforce, and is proposing $36 million more to fund housing and healthcare responses to the crisis (source)

Civil rights

  • Kenney supported LGBTQ rights throughout his time as a councilperson, and continues to be an advocate (source)


  • Kenney opposed Trump’s travel ban executive order, and protested at the Philadelphia International Airport immediately after its news surfaced (source)

  • Kenney established Philadelphia as a sanctuary city, meaning that it will not hold non-violent offenders with undocumented immigration status for ICE. He has upheld this stance despite threats from the Trump administration. (source)

  • Kenney has refused to call on councilperson Bobby Henon to resign after the FBI indicted him, though he has called on several other public officials to resign in the past, including Sheriff Jewel Williams and former Attorney General Seth Williams (source)

  • A PAC related to John Dougherty (Johnny Doc) funded Kenney’s first campaign with $1.5 million (source)

  • Kenney was a staffer for former senator Vince Fumo, but now distances himself from that role and claims he refused to do anything illegal or illicit (source)

  • Kenney issued a statement supporting the controversial purchase of new voting machines, which has recently come under criticism from the State Auditor General and the City Controller for opacity and inappropriate influence (source)