Johnson wants 4 more years

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson announces that he will seek a fourth term. Photos/Mark Zimmaro
Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson announces that he will seek a fourth term. Photos/Mark Zimmaro

City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson officially launched his reelection campaign to serve another four years in the city’s Second Council District.

Johnson was joined by a couple hundred supporters at the Grand Yesha Ballroom on Snyder Avenue on Feb. 18 as he announced that he will be on the Democratic primary ballot on May 16.

Johnson put the city’s gun violence problem at the forefront of his initiatives.

“If we all don’t work together, and invest in our young people so they don’t pick up guns in the first place, we’ll be here 10 years from now addressing the same issue time in and time out about how our young people are killing one another,” Johnson told his supporters.

Johnson created the Peace Not Guns organization 25 years ago in an attempt to prevent violence through education, while giving young people an alternative to the streets. He said one of his new initiatives would be to expand behavioral health counseling in the School District of Philadelphia.

“You don’t think our young people are shell shocked when they go to and from school and they see people getting murdered day in and day out?” Johnson asked. “How are they processing their trauma? And you wonder why the next young person decides to pick up a gun and take the life of another young person.”

Johnson has served on City Council since 2012 following a term as state representative for the 186th Legislative District. The Point Breeze native is seeking his fourth consecutive term on City Council.

Johnson lists his commitment to improving education, affordable housing, business development, public safety, job training and access to employment for his constituents as his main achievements during his first three terms.

He currently represents about 160,000 people covering parts of Center City, South and Southwest Philadelphia and also includes the sports stadium area, Philadelphia International Airport, Port of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

“A diverse community is a strong community,” Johnson said. “From Center City to the Navy Yard to the Airport, there’s about 15 different neighborhoods that I represent. I pride myself to make sure that even when we see developments taking place, which I do welcome, we still maintain the vitality and cultural fabric of our community.”

Johnson chairs City Council’s Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention and the Committee on Rules and Transportation and Public Utilities. He also serves on several committees including Appropriations (Vice-Chair); Public Safety (Vice-Chair); Streets and Services; Licenses and Inspections; Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Commerce and Economic Development, Children and Youth; and Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation.

Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Mansfield University and a Master’s Degree in Government Administration from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed the Governing for NonProfit Excellence Certificate Program at the Harvard School of Business. Johnson was also a volunteer for AmeriCorps, the national service organization that allows citizens to serve their communities, and he was a founding staff member of City Year, the nonprofit AmeriCorps organization whose primary goal is to build advocacy through service.
 In November, a federal jury found Johnson not guilty of participating in a bribery scheme that allegedly saw the Democratic lawmaker accept money in exchange for political favors.

Johnson is expected to be opposed on the Democratic ballot during the primary election by at least one candidate, as New York native Aaron Humphrey has declared to challenge in the 2nd district. Potential candidates have until March 7 to file nominating petitions to get on the ballot.