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Mayor Jim Kenney voted for Cherelle Parker in Philadelphia’s mayoral primary

Kenney’s comments came during a news conference kicking off his administration’s transition plans for the next mayor that Kenney used to criticize a variety of public officials.

Mayor Jim Kenney used a news conference about his administration's plans for transitioning to the next mayor to attack a variety of political actors.
Mayor Jim Kenney used a news conference about his administration's plans for transitioning to the next mayor to attack a variety of political actors.Read moreHeather Khalifa / Staff Photographer

Mayor Jim Kenney said Monday that he has voted for former City Councilmember Cherelle Parker in the hypercompetitive race to succeed him — but he stressed that he was not endorsing her and criticized former mayors who have backed other candidates.

“I think she has the ability to lead the city forward, and honestly I think it’s time for a woman of color,” Kenney said of Parker, who is Black.

Kenney has weathered an immense amount of criticism in his second term, primarily for not appearing to be sufficiently invested in combating the city’s ongoing gun violence crisis, and several of the candidates running to succeed him have sought to use his administration as a foil for how they would run the city.

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Parker, who is part of the Northwest Coalition political organization that was key to Kenney’s victory in the 2015 mayor’s race, has been less critical of the administration than other candidates.

Still, Parker does not appear to be embracing the mayor’s support, and her campaign spokesperson Aren Platt declined to comment on Kenney’s comments Monday.

“We’re focused on our own campaign, talking to hundreds of thousands of voters and getting our message out across the city,” Platt said.

Kenney revealed that he had already voted by mail for Parker in response to a reporter’s question. He differentiated that from recent endorsements by former Philly mayors who have held events or appeared in commercials on behalf of their favored candidates.

“I’m not endorsing anyone publicly‚” Kenney said at a news conference in the Mayor’s Reception Room. “I don’t think it’s right for any old mayor to be endorsing anybody, in truth.”

Former Mayors Ed Rendell, John Street, and Michael Nutter have endorsed former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart in the May 16 Democratic primary, and former Mayor Bill Green III endorsed former Councilmember Allan Domb. Kenney has clashed publicly with Domb and Rhynhart over their criticisms of his administration.

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Kenney’s comments came during an announcement kicking off his administration’s transition plans for the next mayor.

He announced that deputy chief of staff Lyana Cuadrado will lead the effort and signed an executive order that lays out a process for the transition. The order calls for having city agencies produce reports overviewing their work, creating a secure information-sharing process with the mayor-elect, and holding workshops for employees who may not be offered jobs in the new administration.

“Our goal in transition planning is to ensure a smooth transfer of governance from this administration to the next and leave them set up for success,” Cuadrado said. “After the municipal primary, we look forward to working with the candidates to ensure that they have equal access to transition information and can prepare for the possibility of taking office.”

After announcing who would lead the transition effort, Kenney used Monday’s event to air a series of complaints.

He criticized mayoral candidate Jeff Brown for insulting city workers by using the campaign slogan, “Pick up the damn trash.” He attacked Nutter for not providing an adequate transition for his administration, saying, “It was perfunctory, but it wasn’t in-depth.” He criticized the media for publishing multiple stories about a single shooting incident. He threw in digs at candidates who have articulated ambitious policy goals, saying it’s impossible to clean up Kensington in 100 days.

And he even took a shot at Green’s age. Kenney joked that after hearing the 84-year-old former mayor was backing Domb, he’ll be looking for endorsements from Frank Rizzo and James Tate, who both served as mayor before Green and are now dead.

“I mean, look, I don’t know how many people were alive when Green was mayor,” Kenney said. “I’m waiting to see who Mayor Rizzo and Tate endorse.”