The Democratic Primary is next Tuesday, May 19th.  Philadelphia Democrats will select the candidate virtually certain to become our next Mayor.  Of the 6 in the running, Jim Kenney rises to the top, both in our opinion and in recent polls.

The next most likely contender is Anthony Hardy Williams who has close ties to outside millionaires intent on the privatization of our schools as well as thkenney-me Marcellus Shale Coalition, which employs his wife and has contributed to his campaign. Williams has also refused to distance himself from anti-Muslim extremists.

We believe that Williams is divisive and toxic to Philadelphia, but that he has a serious chance of winning if the vote is split between Kenney and other candidates with progressive politics. This would be tragic for Philadelphia in many ways, and would mark a turning from the green agenda of the Nutter administration backwards toward a 19th century vision of pollution, economic stagnation and accelerating climate catastrophe.

There has been some concern expressed in environmental circles about the presence of Phil Rinaldi, CEO of Philadelphia Energy Solutions, on Jim’s Policy Committee. We also were concerned about this and asked for a meeting with Jim and his policy chief, which turned out to be extremely productive.

Our team of representatives from interfaith groups, environmental groups, labor & business, all opposed to the dirty energy hub, new pipelines, dangerous oil trains, and fracking, found Kenney most willing to listen to us as we educated him and his team about the moral issues around climate change as well as the value of green investment over fossil fuel investment in creating jobs without sacrificing clean air, clean water and clean food.

As proof of this commitment, Jim has publicly committed to an open and democratic process for our energy future and has added a trio of extraordinary environmental advocates to his policy team:

Dr. Poune Saberi practices as an occupational & environmental medicine physician, and serves on the boards of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Professor Kenneth Lande has taught at the University of Pennsylvania since 1959. He is one of the most prestigious physicists in the US and is known for his extensive research on the impact of fossil fuel extraction and use on health, safety and the environment.

Dianne Herrin is a green development champion with training and experience with LEED Operations and Maintenance, carbon accounting/reporting, municipal energy planning, energy master planning, and has ISO 50001 certification.

These three advocates will be at the table when energy and economic development decisions are made in the Kenney administration.

In addition, the Kenney policy team included substantial input from us into a new energy policy for Philadelphia. We’re delighted with the result, which includes a goal of 80% carbon reduction by 2050.

With three world-class policy advisors with extensive policy background on his team, Kenney actually has the expertise and experience at his disposal to move on concrete, doable steps toward this goal. The policy doesn’t just talk about carbon reduction. It lays out specific policy to reduce building energy use, to reduce the emissions from the City fleet, to implement a green (and local) procurement program, to incentivize renewable energy, to encourage more green roof infrastructure, and more!

We believe this puts Kenney head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates, even those who claim to support green development but don’t put forward specific plans and still maintain that a fossil fuel hub can be achieved without environmental sacrifice.

A week before our crucial meeting with Jim and his team, GRID magazine endorsed Nelson Diaz for Mayor.  Many of us were disappointed to see this from a local magazine educating our region on sustainability, but found it understandable because Kenney’s new appointments and policy had not become public. Now, there is no reason not to feel GREAT leaving the voting booth, not wasting a vote on a candidate who can’t win, but propelling a true champion into office.

Last we heard, Diaz only had 4% at the polls.  This primary could be won by a narrow margin, so remember that voting for Diaz is taking a vote from Kenney, and handing it to Anthony Williams, the corporate candidate, financed by the fracking industry, school privatizers and anti-Muslim voices.

We could continue wringing our hands and complaining about inaction on climate and corruption from our politicians. Or we can engage in conversation with them, and make this the Climate Change election it ought to be.

A few more points about Jim Kenney: He’s local, born, educated and lived all his life in Philly, and committed to all of its residents. Our local paper, the Inquirer, wrote this about him on May 7th: “Kenney called passionate, loyal to a fault, driven to do right.” Earlier, on May 3rd, a Philadelphia Magazine article, The (New) Jim Kenney for Mayor, explained his evolution from an impassioned young man to a seasoned politician.

He’s experienced around City Hall. The recent May 11th Daily News editorial wrote this: “Kenney has shown himself to be independent, especially when you consider the lack of support for many of his pet causes. He knows how the city and its politics work, and is smart and open to new ideas.”

kenney-aHe listens.  Even to people different from him. Examples abound in his openness to LGBT
rights, to marijuana reform, to immigration reform. And now, to dealing with climate disruption in our region.

Vote Kenney for Mayor!