Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says he could be ‘comfortable’ to not be mayor

An exasperated Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said early Tuesday morning after two police officers were shot that he was worried about safety at public events and that he would be “very happy” to be no longer mayor. , brought national attention and called for his resignation.

Standing with police outside Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Kenney made the comment just after midnight, about two hours after gunfire and chaos ensued during the city’s annual Independence Day celebration on Benjamin Franklin Park Road.

“There isn’t an event or a day where I don’t lie on my back at night, looking at the ceiling and worrying about everything,” he said in response to a question about the government’s response to gun violence. “So everything we have in the city for the last seven years, I worry about. I don’t enjoy the 4th of July. I don’t like it [2016] Democratic National Congress. I don’t like the NFL Draft. I’m always waiting for something bad to happen.

“So I’ll be happy I’m not here – when I’m not the mayor, and I can enjoy some things.”

A reporter watched, asked: “Are you looking forward not to be the mayor?”

“Yes,” said Kenney with a smug smile, “as a matter of fact.”

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw began speaking and drew attention to the reaction to the shooting that left two officers injured by grazing. Both were treated and released on Monday night. No one was arrested since Tuesday morning.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.

Kenney’s brilliant moment quickly attracted national attention and criticism mounted on Tuesday from colleagues in City Hall. Some Philadelphia Democrats, who are considering races to replace him particularly harsh or calling for Kenney – who leaves office in January 2024 – to resign now.

One of them, Grand Councilor Derek Green, said Tuesday morning that Kenney should step down, saying that although he sympathizes with the mayor, the executives cannot express defeat.

“This is a position that people choose to run for and people are looking for leadership in times of crisis,” Green said. “[Kenney] said in his statement that he wanted to be happy. That’s what he said. This is his chance to be happy again.”

Councilor Allan Domb – who is also considering running for mayor – said Kenney should resign because his comments were meant to rescind the oath of office.

“His remark was, to some extent, that he abandoned the city and the people he had to serve every day,” Domb said. “Public leaders have been sworn in to serve the people they represent. … You can’t have a leader who is the coach of the team and throws in the towel.”

Other potential candidates stopped short of calling for Kenney’s resignation but downplayed his administration’s response to gun violence. Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, a frequent critic of Kenney who has said the city does not have strong executive leadership, on Twitter called the mayor’s statement “irresponsible.”

And Grand Councilmember Helen Gym, whose progress also counts among potential mayoral candidates, said in a statement that “Jim Kenney may be defeated but this city will not be. so,” later tweeted that “the most insulting part of the Mayor’s comment last night was not about feeling defeated, but implying that he doesn’t need to care when he’s no longer in office. . “

She added: “Put your little boy on and get to work!”

Kenney’s midnight comments are the opposite of the messages tweeted out from his official account minutes later, where he wrote that his administration would “continue to do everything it can to combat the city’s gun violence.”

“I love this city,” the tweet said, “and as Mayor I want nothing more than to help solve this problem and keep our residents and visitors safe.”

Kenney’s admission that he wishes in some way not to do this job is not surprising coming from a tenured mayor. who has appeared increasingly isolated and unaffected during his second term.

It also illustrates how fed up he is with the rise in Philadelphia shootings that began in 2020 and led to last year being the city’s deadliest year in recorded history.

” READ MORE: Mayoral fadeaway: The Strange Final Chapter in Jim Kenney’s Administration

He said his administration is doing what it can to stem the tide. The Police Department is arresting illegal gun possession at a record rate, and the city will spend millions of dollars next fiscal year on various anti-violence programs external law enforcement.

But Kenney also often blamed the state legislature, led by the GOP, and the large-scale social and national political environment. After a mass shooting last month left three people dead and 11 injured on South Street, he made his first public appearance two days later After flying home from a conference in Reno, Nev.

“I don’t give money to the legislature or the US Congress, but it really makes it more difficult,” he said last month.

After the police shooting late Monday night, Kenney also blamed a recent Supreme Court decision that overturned a New York law that restricted the carrying of guns by the public.

“We live in America, and we have the Second Amendment, and we have the Supreme Court of the United States telling people that they can take a gun anywhere they want,” he said. . “We have to understand what this country is talking about right now. We had a good day today except for some people…who have guns and probably shouldn’t have them. “

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