Cherelle Parker, a Democrat who has held state and local office after entering politics at a young age, was elected Tuesday as Philadelphia’s 100th mayor, making history as the first woman to hold the position.
Full results from the 2023 elections in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Parker, 51, emerged from a crowded Democratic field in May’s primary and was more popular than Republican David Oh in the city, a Democratic stronghold. He will replace Democrat Jim Kenney, who was ineligible for re-election due to term limits.
He campaigned on a promise to make Philadelphia “the safest, cleanest, and greenest metropolis in the nation that will provide access to economic opportunity for all.”
To the tune of “Ladies First,” a distraught Parker appeared and addressed her supporters at her election night watch party at the Sheet Metal Workers’ Hall on South Columbus Boulevard, repeating campaign promises to solve the problems of crime, education, jobs and poverty. The Mount Airy native, who was raised by his grandparents, vowed to work with the Philadelphia County Legislature and City Council to move the city forward.
“Who will Cherelle Parker be? A Philadelphian get-done. A mayor-to-be who won’t forget her deep roots,” he said. “I’m Philly born, I’m Philly-bred and I’ll be a Philadelphian ’til I die.”
Having served 10 years as a state representative in northwest Philadelphia before being elected to the city council in 2015, he presented himself in his campaign as a leader whose government experience would allow him to solve the city’s problems.
“We cannot solve these problems alone,” he said earlier. “We need federal, state and local government, as well as the private sector and the communities that serve it, to help us address public health and safety.”
Parker’s moderate message resonated with voters increasingly concerned about public safety, as well as quality-of-life issues, from faulty streetlights to potholes to garbage collection. He also promised well-trained community police, as well as psychological and moral support. He was chosen during the city’s search for a new police commissioner, whose announcement could be heard in a few weeks.
“You’ve heard me talk about making public health and safety our number one priority. Listen, I’m not apologizing for that. We’re going to use every legal tool in the toolbox to make this city safe,” Parker said.
Fans at the viewing party hug each other in celebration. Among them was Carolyn Mosley, 57, who said that her main concerns when going to the polls are crime and taxes.
After meeting Parker at a church event earlier this year, he was “100% sold,” saying: “I believe he can successfully change Philadelphia.”
“Her story reminds me of my story,” said Mosley, who is also a black woman. “And I see girls who can imitate him.”
David Oh, a lawyer and member of the city’s largest city council, aims to be the city’s first Asian American mayor. He raced to reduce Philadelphia’s crime rate, including hiring more police officers and tackling drug use.
No Republican has won a mayoral race in Philadelphia in more than 70 years. He said it is important that everyone now gets behind Parker.
“I think it’s a challenge — whether I win or you win — to get the credibility that comes with being elected. Now, — make that difference,” Oh said.
Oh, Parker was admitted just before 11 p.m
“We have reached the end of this journey. The voters have spoken and Cherelle Parker is the 100th Mayor of Philadelphia, so I congratulate her and wish her the best. It is her responsibility now, and we will all support her to make her the most successful mayor this city has ever seen because that is what benefits the community,” he said.