Former Philadelphia City Councilman James F. Kenney won a coveted endorsement for his mayoral bid Wednesday evening from the union that represents the city's police officers.
Kenney, already on a roll with other recent endorsements, was among four candidates seeking the support of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, president John McNesby said.
Kenney received more than 80 percent of the vote from the union's board of directors, which has about 180 members, McNesby said. The other candidates who appeared before the board Wednesday were State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, and Nelson A. Diaz, a former judge and city solicitor.
"I am truly honored to have the support of Philadelphians who put their lives on the line every day to protect our city," Kenney said in a statement Wednesday night. "As the son of a firefighter, I have a special appreciation for the sacrifices these men and women and their families make. As mayor, I will work to ensure our neighborhoods and police are working together to make every Philadelphian feel safe."
The factors that swayed board members toward Kenney included "his time on Council, and I think his knowledge of the city and the people around the city," McNesby said. "We're picking our boss, most likely for the next eight years."
Williams received the second-most votes, and Abraham received two and Diaz one, McNesby said. Despite being the city's longtime prosecutor, Abraham did not connect with union members, McNesby said.
In particular, he said, board members did not warm to her mention of the 21st Century Policing Task Force, which President Obama commissioned last year to address relations between police and communities.
McNesby said the task force, chaired by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, was created to "appease the public," and described its recent report as "a lot of wasted paper."
The FOP president said that he was not opposed to reform, but that it should come with input from rank-and-file officers, which he said was not the case with the task force.
Candidates T. Milton Street Sr. and Doug Oliver did not respond to the FOP's endorsement invitation, McNesby said.
The union represents 14,000 active and retired police and sheriff's officers.