PHILADELPHIA - Cherelle Parker, a Democrat who has held office at the state and local level after first becoming involved in politics as a teenager, was elected Tuesday as Philadelphia’s 100th mayor, becoming the first woman to hold the post.
Parker, 51, emerged from a crowded field of Democrats in the May primary and was heavily favored over Republican David Oh in the city, a Democratic stronghold. She will replace Democrat Jim Kenney, who was ineligible for reelection due to term limits.
Surrounded by family, friends and supporters the mayor-elect called for unity and togetherness to help tackle some of the city's toughest issues during a victory speech Tuesday night.
"My message to Philadelphians from all walks of life is that if they would just give me the opportunity that I would put to great use everything inside of me - my lived experiences, my professional experience, my academic preparation - that I would put all of it to great use to work with you all to make Philadelphia the safest, cleanest, greenest big city in the nation with economic opportunity for all," Parker said.
She campaigned on a promise to make Philadelphia the "safest, cleanest, greenest big city in the nation that will provide access to economic opportunity for all."
Parker, who served for 10 years as a state representative for northwest Philadelphia before her election to the city council in 2015, touted herself as a leader whose government experience would allow her to address gaping problems in the city.
"We can’t solve these problems alone," she said in a previous interview. "We need federal, state and local government, along with the private sector and philanthropic communities, to help us address the public health and safety."
In a concession speech, opponent David Oh accepted defeat as he wished Parker well, and offered his full support in her upcoming term as mayor.
"It is her responsibility now and we will all support her to make her the most successful mayor that this city has seen, because that's what's in the public interest for all of you," Oh said.
Parker’s moderate message resonated with voters who are increasingly worried about public safety as well as quality-of-life issues, from faulty streetlights to potholes to trash collection.
"We will have a police department that is supported by the mayor that is the best, well-trained and is proactively engaged and woven into the fabric of our communities, along with mental health and behavioral health supports, along with social and human services and connection to employment opportunities and workforce development address and quality of life issues," she said.
With a long political history in Pennsylvania, Parker asserted herself as a leader whose government experience would allow her to address gaping problems with public safety and quality of life in the nation’s sixth-largest city.
She served for 10 years as a state representative for northwest Philadelphia before her election to the city council in 2015.
The 51-year-old ran for mayor with public safety as a top priority, including the hiring of 300 police officers and using new ways to draw applicants.
She supports stronger gun laws, including the reporting of lost and stolen weapons, and said she will work with state leaders to find more money for schools.
Parker also supports what she calls the "legal form of stop and frisk" by police and said the National Guard will have a role in tackling the challenges in Kensington.
Voters were also choosing a new leader for Allegheny County, which is home to Pittsburgh. The races will set the electoral stage for 2024, when the state will be a presidential battleground state, with candidates taking lessons about how Democrats see crime and the strength of progressives in local races. into the next election cycle.