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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney Says He'll Be Happy When He's Not Mayor Following Fourth Of July Shooting

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The shooting of two police officers during Fourth of July celebrations near the Ben Franklin Parkway has left Mayor Jim Kenney looking forward to not being mayor. Philadelphia City Councilmembers Derek Green and Allan Domb are calling for Kenney to resign after his comments.

Now, he's trying his best to, as the saying goes, put the toothpaste back in the tube.

On Tuesday, the mayor said in a statement that his comments were made in an overwhelming moment of frustration.

CBS3 wanted to know more -- what exactly was he so frustrated about, what is his crime plan, and is he going to resign, as some have demanded. But we were denied access to the mayor.

"Kevin, why is he not available? Why are you laughing? We want answers," CBS3 reporter Matt Petrillo asked Philadelphia Mayor Communications Director Kevin Lessard.

Lessard was tight-lipped, walking away from Eyewitness News a day after Kenney made the controversial comments.

"I'm waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I'll be happy when I'm not here, when I'm not mayor, and I can enjoy some stuff," Kenney said.

On Tuesday, many people who live in Philly said they were stunned to hear the comments.

"He should resign if he doesn't want to be mayor," one person said.

"He's tired, like he just want to give up," said another.

"He's tired of being mayor so let someone else be mayor who wants to do the job right now," a person said.

"There is a level of frustration," former Philadelphia mayor and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said.

Rendell spoke one-on-one with Eyewitness News. He admitted there were times when he felt so frustrated, he wanted to step down from the mayor's office himself.

"When I was mayor I remember saying a number of times 'this is hopeless, we can't turn the city around. What am I killing myself for?" Rendell said. "But I woke up the next morning and I was determined to go battle and try to change things."

When CBS3 knocked directly on the mayor's office door, you could hear what sounds like someone locking the door.

Instead, Kenney's office released a statement.

"I'd also like to clarify some of the comments I made at the press briefing last night at Jefferson Hospital. In a late-night, overwhelming moment of frustration, I said I was looking forward to no longer being mayor. Let me be clear, I'm incredibly grateful to be mayor of this great city and for the people who elected me to lead. Cities and city leaders across the country have felt the impacts of the pandemic and the escalating gun violence epidemic for years now. There has been so much tragedy in this country of late, and many of us are dealing with the trauma and our feelings of frustration, anger, and deep sadness about the issues plaguing our society. I ran for Mayor with the goal of helping every Philadelphian reach their potential. As mayor, I feel personally responsible for the well-being of every Philadelphian, and it's a weight I carry with me every day—every waking moment. And I know that far too many residents worry daily about their safety and their loved ones too."

"He's not gonna give up. Jim Kenney, I served with him. He was councilmember when I was mayor, and he doesn't give up. I hope he's going to get angry and lay out a plan to do something about it," Rendell said.

But on Tuesday, we never heard any message from Kenney and his spokesperson refused to give us answers.

"So why can't we talk to the mayor? People don't want a carefully crafted statement. They want to hear directly from the mayor. Is he going to resign? What's his crime plan? Why was he frustrated?" Petrillo asked Lessard.

Meanwhile, some officials are calling for the mayor's resignation.

"He showed who he is. If it wasn't in him he wouldn't have said it so that's how he feels and this is how I feel," Pennsylvania state Rep. Amen Brown said.

Calls to step down came rushing in Tuesday as local leaders responded to comments Kenney made in "a moment of frustration."

"Clearly you feel as though your time is up. You don't need to wait, let someone else step in and let a team come in and do the right thing to take care of our city to get us out of this crisis," Brown said.

Frustrated or not, Brown believes mayor Kenney needs to go.

"I think the mayor's comments were asinine. I told him that if you can feel this way imagine how Philadelphians who don't have the ability to check out feel," City Councilmember Cherelle Parker said.

From state representatives to City Council, opinions on the matter dominated conversations about curbing gun violence.

Now nearing the latter end of his second term, some leaders say only one person can make that call.

"The mayor has to make that decision as to what he wants to do. I talked to the mayor today, the mayor said he's not going anywhere," City Council President Darelle Clarke said.

The mayor is expected to address the Parkway shooting at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

CBS3's Ross DiMattei, Matt Petrillo, and Jasmine Payoute contributed to this report.

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