Cherelle Parker, a long-time Democrat, made history by becoming the first woman and person of color to hold the position of mayor of Philadelphia. At 51 years old, she will assume office on January 1, 2024, after defeating Republican and former city councilman, David Oh, with 74.4% of the vote.
Upon confirming her victory, Parker delivered her inaugural speech from the southern part of the city, emphasizing that “we will ensure to put people on the path to self-sufficiency.” She stated, “You’ve heard me talk about making our public health and safety our number one priority. We will also use all available legal tools to make this city safe.”
As the mother of Langston Mullins, named after her favorite poet, Langston Hughes, Parker described her government mission as “closing the gap between the haves and have-nots.”
Restoring middle-class neighborhoods, focusing on education, creating economic opportunities, promoting cleanliness and environmental initiatives, as well as enhancing safety, are all part of Parker’s priorities and her governance plan. She will take office on January 1, 2024, succeeding Jim Kenney, who held the position for eight years.
Parker and Her Remarkable Career
Born and raised in West Oak Lane by her grandparents, James and Dorothy Parker, Parker has achieved her political dreams thanks to her family’s unwavering love, community support, and belief in the power of education.
Her political journey began at the age of 17 when she won a high school oratory contest. The prize was an internship with city councilwoman Marian Tasco, with whom she ended up working for 15 years.
In 2005, she became the youngest African American woman elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing Northeast Philadelphia for ten years. She worked to increase funding for the city’s public schools, limit property tax increases, combat payday lenders, and strengthen support for victims of sexual violence.
Her path continued to the city council, where she assumed the role of the 9th District Councilwoman, representing the neighborhoods of Northwest and Northeast Philadelphia, including Mount Airy, West Oak Lane, East Oak Lane, Olney, Lawncrest, Lawndale, Burholme, and Oxford Circle.
In the council, Parker served as the Chair of the Labor and Civil Service Committee and Vice-Chair of the Commerce and Economic Development Committee. She became known for advocating for home improvement pathways, opposing gentrification affecting homeowners, opposing the soda tax, and supporting community policing. She also became the first woman to chair the board of the Delaware River Port Authority.
The Democrat became the 100th mayor. There hasn’t been a Republican in that position since 1952 when Bernard “Barney” Samuel had a limited term due to the approval of the city’s Home Rule Charter, which set a two-term limit.