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Vote on May 21

Happy with the work we’ve gotten done in Philadelphia? Think we deserve more? That’s why you should head to the polls on May 21 and demand change.

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How Did Kenney Do?

The Mayor is asking for your vote on Tuesday. Here, we look at how well he kept his promises from 2015

How Did Kenney Do?

The Mayor is asking for your vote on Tuesday. Here, we look at how well he kept his promises from 2015

On Tuesday, Jim Kenney will ask you to (effectively) hire him to a second term as Mayor of Philadelphia. Which begs the question: How’d he do in his first term?

We searched for Kenney’s most fervent promises from the 2015 campaign—sourced from news articles, televised debates, and his own platform—to see how they compare with what he accomplished over the last four years. By our count, he delivered on nine of his 2015 campaign’s biggest promises, or 64 percent—though some just barely. Because governing is more nuanced than campaigning, we’ve added a column to provide context behind the “Yes/No” breakdown. This shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when voting next week. But it does touch on many of the reasons why voters elected him to the office four years ago.

It is good enough? That’s for you to decide.

Criminal Justice Reform & Public Safety

2015 Mayoral Campaign Promise Did This Happen?  What Else To Know

“Stop and frisk will end in Philadelphia, no question.” (source)


According to the ACLU’s most recent data, in the first half of 2018, more than 6,000 people in Philadelphia were stopped for an unjustifiable reason. And 80 percent of those stops were of African Americans.

“We need to reduce the number of police involved shootings.” (source)


According to the Philadelphia Police Department , officer-involved shootings fell from 23 in 2015 to 12 in 2018.

Reduce prison populations. (source)


Philadelphia’s prison population has fallen from 8,082 in 2015 to 4,638 in April, 2019, according to a report released by the City. The effort began before Kenney’s tenure, with a 2015 $150,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation; since then the Foundation has granted Philly another $7.5 million for criminal justice reform.

Worth noting: Philadelphia’s homicide rate has reached its highest number since 2012. During Kenney’s campaign, he gave no specific plan to address this. Other violent crimes in Philadelphia have decreased by 20 percent during the Kenney administration.


2015 Mayoral Campaign Promise Did This Happen?  What Else To Know

“We need regular street cleaning.” (source)


In April, 2019, Philadelphia launched a pilot street cleaning program in a few neighborhoods that may cause more air and noise pollution; the City will assess in six months.

“We need to have a big citywide cleanup every spring.” (source) YES

The Philly Spring Cleanup began prior to Kenney becoming Mayor, but in its 12th year, it grew from 11,313 registered volunteers in 2010 to 17,776 in 2018.

Worth noting: After taking office, Kenney started a Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet. And his administration adopted a Municipal Energy Master Plan in accordance with the Paris Climate Accord—a response to Pres. Trump that candidate Kenney could not have anticipated.

Road Maintenance & Infrastructure Improvement

2015 Mayoral Campaign Promise Did This Happen?  What Else To Know

Hold accountable contractors who block sidewalks, or as he put it: “Nobody’s stealing sidewalks after 2016!” (source)


Contractors must now apply to block sidewalks, and there is a new online system to report blocked sidewalks. But the Streets Department only has six inspectors to check sites all over the city.

Increase funding for the Streets Department to address potholes. (source)


The Streets Department has added two additional paving crews, allowing it to pave 95 miles of road this year, and Kenney’s current budget proposal calls for $200 million over the next six years to fix roads.

Build 30 miles of bike lanes throughout the city. (source)


Less than five miles of bike lanes have been built. Kenney now promises to build 40 miles of bike lanes by 2026.

Workforce & Business

2015 Mayoral Campaign Promise Did This Happen? What Else To Know

Raise the minimum wage for city contractors and employees to $15/hour. (source)


City Council passed legislation in December, and Kenney signed into law, a bill that will gradually raise the hourly wage to $15 over the next few years.

Continue the City’s reduction of wage taxes, and accelerate those cuts if possible. (source) YES—BARELY The rate for residents was 3.91% when Kenney took office; last July, it went to 3.89%.

Worth noting: Mayor Kenney also signed laws requiring employers provide shift workers with a fairer schedule, and preventing companies from asking prospective employees about their previous salaries.


2015 Mayoral Campaign Promise Did This Happen?  What Else To Know

“This administration is going to start by providing Pre-K for the 18,000 children, three and four years of age, who have no access to Pre-K today.” (source)


About 4,000 students have enrolled in Universal Pre-K under the Kenney administration. However, Kenney’s initial goal, after taking office, of 6,500 Pre-K seats in the first five years has been rolled back to 5,500 by 2023.

Implement zero-based budgeting strategy to pay for Universal pre-K. (source)


Instead of zero-based budgeting, Kenney’s administration passed a soda tax to help pay for Universal pre-K. In its first year, the tax brought in $91 million, $13 million less than expected.

No increase in real estate taxes. (source)


Despite being adamant during his campaign about not raising real estate taxes, Kenney proposed a 4.1 percent property tax increase last year. This, however, was rejected by City Council.

Create community schools. (source)


During his administration, 12 district schools were named “community schools.” But the 25 community school goal by 2020 was rolled back to 20 by 2023.

Worth noting: Mayor Kenney “took back the schools,” by working with Gov. Tom Wolf to shut down the School Reform Commission and return to a local school board, appointed by the Mayor. This summer ends the board’s first year in office. With the return of local control for schools, however, came Kenney’s pledge that the city would assume responsibility for much of the school’s 2017 projection of a $1 billion deficit over five years. 

Photo via Flickr

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