A kid born and raised in South Philly realized his boyhood dream when he took the oath of office as Philadelphia’s 99th mayor Monday morning.
Jim Kenney was inaugurated inside a packed Academy of Music hall at Broad and Locust streets in Center City, sheltered from the bitter cold that had escaped Philadelphia for months prior to the New Year.
“Over the last year, we’ve articulated a lot of different ways that we believe our administration will serve the city — expanded pre-K, stronger neighborhood commercial corridors, community schools and community policing,” said Kenney.
“While those policies cover a wide range of issues, they all come from one fundamental truth—government functions properly when its accessible and accountable to the people it serves.”
Kenney, 57, was sworn in by a childhood friend, Kevin Dougherty, who was also sworn in the same day as a justice to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“Kevin and his brother lived about a hundred yards from our home in South Philadelphia,” Kenney went on to say.
“He and his brother John [labor leader John Dougherty] – we did pretty good, didn’t we, Kevin?” he quipped, looking over at [Kevin] Dougherty on the dais.
“God bless America,” Kenney said, to raucous applause.
“I’ve known Jim since I was born,” Dougherty said after the ceremony.
“It’s been an incredible honor—not only to swear him in—but to call him a lifetime friend.”
Kenney thanked his family for their support throughout the campaign.
“It was my parents’ selflessness that led me to this stage…together they taught me you can never truly be happy unless you’re in service to others,” he said.
During his speech, the decades-long veteran of City Council was surrounded by his seated former colleagues, all of whom looked on with seemingly admiration of the white, Irish, blue-collar union-backed Democrat.
Kenney promised them—and City Council President Darrell Clarke—a relationship of harmony moving forward, something critics say was lacking of the prior administration with former Mayor Michael Nutter.
“I look forward to working with you in years to come on many important things. We will be partners in this endeavor,” Kenney vowed.
After Kenney was introduced by Clarke, the two embraced and cameras snapped like lightning.
The new mayor said the first time he was ever in City Hall was when he went to City Council chambers to see his father—a firefighter—be there to get promoted within the fire department.
“So, that room has special meaning for me,” he said.
“To all those Philadelphians who have entrusted me with this great responsibility, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Kenney said upon closing.
“I promise to serve you, to be accountable to you and, most importantly, to listen and to work with you so that we, together as Philadelphians, can make every single neighborhood in Philadelphia the best that it can be. God bless you and lets get to work.”