Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Kenney Inauguration Euphoria: Now comes the hard part

It was a happy crowd and a lot of youthful energy in the room at Jim Kenney’s Inaugural Block Party. This was an event consistent with what Kenney represents to so many his supporters —a down-to-earth guy, with deep roots in Philly and a real appreciation for what’s special about this town. My guess is that Philadelphians are going to feel a lot better about their city with Jim Kenney as Mayor.

A remarkable coalition coalesced around him as soon as he announced his candidacy last January. I appreciated that Kenney had been a leader on issues that I care about : LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, decriminalization of marijuana--not so we can all get high in peace, but because so many lives of young people, primarily African-Americans and Latinos, were being destroyed by criminal records.

The campaign Jim Kenney ran reinforced my belief that he was the right person for the city. I liked the issues he emphasized—especially his commitment to public education and to universal pre-K. I was also impressed by the coalition he put together including people from every ethnic and racial group. And the appointments he has made underscore his commitment to racial/ethnic dieirsity and gender parity. Jim Kenney has sure earned his NOW endorsement, as the majority of his appointments so far have been women. And the appointments include some of the most talented people in our city.

But will all his enthusiastic supporters stick with him when he tackles some of the really hard problems? Yes, business and philanthropic groups can contribute to a fund for public education and for pre-k, but the real solutions must involve public money and that means more revenue.

Jim Kenney received a lot of support from the progressive community who can be a fickle lot. Yes, we should let our candidates know when we think they’ve voted the wrong way or made a bad policy decision. But let’s not be so quick to turn on candidates who disappoint us on one issue. Jim Kenney will need the long-term, rock solid support of all those happy folks at the Inaugural Block Party. He can’t do it alone.

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