PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Jim Kenney is playing the defense in Philadelphia. Two candidates are hoping to unseat the Democrat, who’s seeking his second term as mayor.
Kenney entered the auditorium at the Community College of Philadelphia defending his position against two Democratic candidates who want to take his title.
“We have to lead,” State Sen. Anthony Williams said.
“One thing you have to do as a mayor is you have to be negotiating,” former City Controller Alan Butkovitz said.
Butkovitz and Williams are running against Kenney on the Democratic ticket.
Monday’s event was hosted by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and focused on issues affecting minority communities. A good portion of the evening was spent on the police department’s stop and frisk program.
“We’ve reduced the number of overall bad pedestrian stops since 2015 by 90% and we are continuing to drive those numbers down,” Kenney said.
Kenney’s contenders say the numbers are not enough and they’ll try to stop the program entirely.
“End stop and frisk means end it,” Butkovitz said. “We’ll end it on the first day.”
The candidates also took on the incumbent, hitting him hard on the city’s rising homicide rate.
“We’re going to be the No. 1 city in America leading in homicides,” Williams said.
“The homicide rate in every other city in America is falling [but] in Philadelphia, it’s skyrocketing,” Butkovitz added.
Kenney acknowledged the problem and says interacting with at-risk youth is his way to solving it.
“We have a pilot program out in Southwest Philadelphia, in the 12th District, where officers are engaging young people on the corners and out on the street offering help with job training and jobs,” Kenney said. “We’ve placed 60 people in full-time employment since that program started.”